SJR 173/HJR 187
Joint Subcommittee to Study the Regulatory
Responsibilities, Policies and Activities of the State Corporation Commission
October 4, 2000, Richmond
The joint subcommittee held its third
meeting to determine the process it will use to secure an independent
consultant and to develop a list of considerations and study objectives
for inclusion in a study work plan.
Staff presented information to the
joint subcommittee regarding options for the process to be used in securing
an independent consultant, funding for the consultant, and the scope of
the issues to be examined. The joint subcommittee decided that it would
look to the state's public institutions of higher education to provide
the consultant services. The joint subcommittee also decided that, in
order to have the consultant in place by December 2000, it would attempt
to obtain funding from the Legislative Reversion Account through the Joint
The joint subcommittee also decided
that the issues for consideration that had been developed from both public
and subcommittee member comment provide the basis of the consultant's
scope of issues for examination. The joint subcommittee directed staff
to develop a request for proposals based on these guidelines and to perform
the initial review of submitted proposals. After reviewing the proposals,
staff will provide a recommendation regarding the finalist(s) who best
satisfies the needs of the joint subcommittee. The finalist(s) then would
present the proposal at the December 2000 meeting of the joint subcommittee.
The joint subcommittee adopted the
following issues for consideration as encompassing the scope of the study
I. General Considerations
A. Appropriate Regulation of New and Future
1. Is the overall direction of the
SCC in terms of its policy and rule-making authority well suited to
the new market dynamics of the business activities it regulates?
2. Is the SCC's current direction
and approach toward the new economic conditions affecting the business
activities it regulates appropriate? If not, what new direction and
approaches are required?
3. How can the SCC be changed to
ensure that in the future government will continue to achieve the proper
balance between public protection and encouraging and rewarding entrepreneurial
initiative, competitive innovation and economic development?
B. Developing Regulatory Policy
1. What is the appropriate role of
the SCC in the development of regulatory policy for the Commonwealth?
2. How effectively has the SCC participated
in the development of regulatory policy for the Commonwealth?
C. Compliance with General Assembly Policy
1. Is the SCC, in exercising the
authority delegated to it by the General Assembly, achieving the results
that the General Assembly intended?
2. Is the SCC staff effective and
faithful in carrying out the legislative intent of the General Assembly
in those cases where policy has been set by legislation?
D. Separation of Functions
1. Are the interests of the Commonwealth
best served by having policy determinations and rule-making authority
for the various business activities regulated by the SCC housed in one
2. Should policy making decisions
and rule making be conducted by other state agencies or the General
3. In light of technological advances
and more universal access to information, does there remain a need to
have a single regulatory agency in order to achieve the goals of regulatory
consistency, expertise and specific institutional knowledge, and to
prevent undue influence on the regulatory process?
4. Should the same SCC staff lobby
and then regulate? Does this relationship represent a conflict?
5. Should the adjudicatory and management
roles of the SCC be separated?
E. Relationship among SCC, General Assembly,
and Executive Branch
Should more collaboration be established
among the SCC, the executive branch and the General Assembly to promote
common goals and create more job opportunities while protecting consumers?
F. Funding and Financial Oversight
1. What is the proper level of funding
for the SCC in light of its responsibilities in the changing regulatory
2. What are the financial operations
of the SCC and how does the General Assembly oversee those operations?
1. Should the process for selecting
judges be changed?
2. Should the SCC be authorized to
waive its immunity from suit in federal court in order to permit it
to address issues brought for its consideration pursuant to the federal
Telecommunications Act of 1996? (Federal courts have concluded that
state commissions like the SCC are deemed to have waived their immunity
from suit in federal court if they arbitrate unsettled issues between
new entry telephone companies and incumbent telephone companies, because
either party may then appeal to federal court. Accordingly, the SCC
recently concluded that it could no longer arbitrate such issues because
it was not empowered to waive such immunity.)
II. Internal Operational Considerations
A. Mission and Structure
1. Does the SCC's mission accurately
describe its activities?
2. Does the SCC's organizational
structure advance its ability to achieve the stated mission?
3. Could the SCC be restructured
to better accomplish its mission?
1. Is there excessive fragmentation
of the SCC staff such that responsibilities are unclear and/or duplicative,
contributing to cumbersome and protracted regulatory proceedings?
2. How are the functions (executive/legislative/judicial)
carried out by the SCC different from those carried out by other executive
or legislative branch agencies?
3. Do the SCC's Rules of Practice
provide for adequate due process?
4. Do the commissioners provide adequate
oversight over the activities of the SCC's divisions, including addressing
complaints regarding the actions of SCC employees?
5. What are the different proceedings
held or conducted by the SCC and how can they be streamlined?
6. Should the SCC's processes and
structure be modified to better accommodate a collaborative model for
The joint subcommittee adopted a work
plan for completion of the study objectives. There was discussion among
the members regarding whether the next meeting of the joint subcommittee
should include an opportunity for public comment. Several members noted
that the consultant hired by the joint subcommittee would be required
to obtain comment from the regulated community, consumer groups, and other
interested parties. Accordingly, it was determined that it would be more
appropriate to provide for a public hearing or public comment period after
the consultant has been engaged, in the second year of the study. There
was also agreement that the work plan should remain flexible to ensure
maximum participation and input from all interested parties.
The joint subcommittee scheduled
its next meeting for December 5, 2000, at 1:00 p.m. Several subcommittee
members indicated an interest in the SCC's revision of its procedural
rules. SCC representatives indicated that an executive summary of the
proposed changes would be provided prior to the subcommittee's next meeting.
An update on the status of the report from the SCC's consultant was also
requested for the next meeting.
The Honorable Thomas K. Norment, Jr.,
Legislative Services Contacts: Amigo Wade and David Rosenberg