Lawmakers clear bill to overhaul Telecom Board structure
A bill seeking to increase the number of associate Telecommunications Regulatory Board members and change the lengths of their tenures from the current three, five and seven-year terms to four years has passed in the House and Senate, paving the way for major changes at the agency.
If Gov. Alejandro García-Padilla signs the bill into law, he and his successors would have the authority to remove the current board members from their positions every four years, as general elections come around.
And that possibility is something that worries telecom industry executives, some of whom spoke to this media outlet on the condition of anonymity.
“The skills and expertise that those telecom board positions require are not easily found. The other problem is that if you start eliminating people from their positions every four years, there will be no continuity,” said one of the executives. “There’s a reason why there are three, five and seven-year terms right now.”
House Bill 720 authored by House Speaker Jaime Perelló and reviewed by the Government Affairs Committee, seeks to amend Law 213 of 1996, known as the Puerto Rico Telecom Law, to accommodate two more members, pushing the number to five, all of whom would be appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Senate.
Essentially, the bill seeks to increase the number of “people participating in the decision-making process” related to approving and staying on top of the dynamic telecom industry, the bill said.
Of the five members, one must be experienced in corporate finances, another must be an attorney or an engineer with at least seven years of experience in their field, and three must “possess widely recognized experience in the telecom industry.”
As for their terms in service, the bill said the newly appointed board members would come in for four years, rather than the current three, five and seven years.