Conservative legal heavyweights John Engler, C. Boyden Gray and Kenneth Starr weigh in on the future of state utility commissions at National Review Online today.
Their conclusion: "So, yes, there is role for vibrant federalism in the new telecom world. But it is a very different role than before. The old natural monopoly required economic oversight from guardians of the public interest. Today regulators need a keen eye for government-imposed barriers that can be swept away, so that technology and competition can bring consumers the ever greater wonders of the telecommunications revolution. Lowering regulatory barriers to investment and competition is not an abandonment of the states' role, but a leadership strategy that will benefit everyone."
The essay is addressed to folks on the Hill who will meet in committee today. While I may quibble with their easy use of phrases like "guardians of the public interest," these men have put out a challenge to lawmakers everywhere and it will be interesting to watch who takes it up. The House hearing can be streamed from this page.