President Reagan is expected to nominate Reese H. Taylor Jr., a former chairman of the Nevada Public Service Commission and a former law partner of Sen. Paul Laxalt (R-Nev.), to head the Interstate Commerce Commission, sources said yesterday.
The expected nomination already is reported to have raised concern among supporters of transportation deregulation because of reports that Taylor is the Teamsters' and trucking industry's choice for the job and that he represents the interests of regulated companies in his law practice.
Taylor, 52, is currently a partner in the Carson City law firm of Allison, Brunetti, MacKenzie & Taylor. His work consists primarily of an administrative law practice with partiuclar emphasis on regulatory matters pertaining to public utilities and transportation companies, according to his resume.
When Taylor joined the firm in 1971, it was known as Laxalt, Berry & Allison, and Paul Laxalt was a senior partner.
From 1967 until 1971, Taylor served as chairman of the Public Service Commission of Nevada. He was appointed to the post by then-Gov. Paul Laxalt.
A registered Republican, Taylor was involved in Laxalt's campaign for governor of Nevada in 1966 and his campaign for the U.S. Senate in 1974. He served as Nevada chairman of Citizens for Reagan in 1974 and was Nevada chairman of the Reagan for President committee last year.
"Everbody who was in favor of deregulation is fairly upset about Taylor," the representative of one large business trade association said yesterday. "But practically speaking, I don't know who would raise his hand against him; by God, it looks like he gave birth to Laxalt."
Another important connection is Attorney General William French Smith. Between 1952 and 1958, Taylor was associated with Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, Smith's Los Angeles law firm.
Efforts to reach Taylor about his specific views on transportation yesterday were unsuccessful. However, many who were involved in the legislative battles over trucking and rail regulatory reform are expressing concerns about what they contend are Taylor's proregulation views. "I think it's shocking," one source said yesterday. "This is a genuine test of the Reagan administration's commitment to free enterprise -- whether Reagan really believes in a free-market approach . . . or whether he will just support deregulation to industries that want deregulation."
Senate sources say that Commerce Committeee Chairman Bob Packwood (R-Ore.), a strong proponent of trucking deregulation, is disappointed in the choice of Taylor but isn't likely to oppose him because of his close connection with Laxalt, in turn a close friend of President Reagan.
Tranportation Secretary Drew Lewis signed off on the Taylor nomination after interviewing him His original choice was John DePodesta, former general counsel of Conrail, because of his railroad background. DePodesta was believed some weeks ago to have had the job sewn up.
The president has a significant opportunity to reshape the ICC although its general statutes, revised last year, now require it to place a greater emphasis on promoting competition. Although the ICC can have 11 members by statute, the Carter administration allowed the agency to diminish in size by leaving some seats vacant. It is now down to five members, with the term of Charles L. Clapp having expired. He is entitled to sit until he is replaced. Marcus Alexis, a Carter appointee, became acting chairman when Darius W. Gaskins Jr. resigned last month. An obvious candidate for the chairmanship of the ICC -- member Thomas A. Trantum, a Republican whose economic views match those of the president's major advisers -- reportedly was vetoed by some in Congress after the trucking industry lobbied against him.