Tech bills head toward markups

A House committee will consider a bill this week that makes permanent small-business exemptions to some of the aspects of last year’s landmark net neutrality rules.

The full House Energy and Commerce Committee will vote Thursday on the bill, which passed out of its Subcommittee on Communications and Technology earlier this month.

The bill permanently exempts small businesses from stricter transparency rules applied to Internet service providers under the net neutrality rules the Federal Communications Commission approved last year. The bill defines a small business as a provider that has 1,500 or fewer employees or one that has no more than 500,000 subscribers.

The exemptions are currently temporary.

Some have raised concerns that the definition is too broad.

“For example, one rural advocacy group representing small telecommunications providers has, on average, 4,000 access lines and 34 employees per member company,” said subcommittee ranking member Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.).

“Similarly, the majority's witness last month testified that their association's members have an average of 1,500 customers with the largest company having 200,000 subscribers.”

When the subcommittee signed off on the bill, Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) said it would protect small businesses “from burdensome regulation.”

Next week is also expected to see lawmakers consider a bill with implications for tech and telecom. Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneSenate panel approves GOP tax plan Republicans see rising Dem odds in Alabama Overnight Health Care: Nearly 1.5M sign up for ObamaCare so far | Schumer says Dems won't back ObamaCare deal if it's tied to tax bill | House passes fix to measure letting Pentagon approve medical treatments MORE (R-S.D.) told reporters on Monday that he hopes the panel will vote on his MOBILE NOW Act — which implements reforms to spectrum policy — next month, according to Politico.