A House of Representatives panel voted to exclude the Internet from the definition of "public communication" in the Bipartisan Campaign Finance Reform Act of 2002, taking a first step towards immunizing bloggers and other online pundits from election-law regulations that would have gagged them. It seems the House didn't buy critics' arguments that doing so would transform the Web into one big bulk mail campaign fed by soft money. "We don't expect bloggers to check with a federal agency before they go online," said House Administration Committee Chairman Vernon Ehlers, a Michigan Republican, referring to the Federal Election Commission. "They shouldn't have to read FEC advisory opinions (or have) to worry about running afoul of federal election laws." Rep. Juanita Millender-McDonald, a California Democrat, agreed. "Bloggers should be treated no different from talk radio," she said. "Talk radio hosts have protections under the First Amendment. While I may disagree with their positions on the issues of the day, I will nonetheless fight for their right to speak their mind."