ARRL

Amateur Radio Parity Act

The Amateur Radio Parity Act of 2015

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          Click the image to watch the ARRL "Clarity on Parity" video


NEW: ARRL Memo to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation on the Amateur Radio Parity Act, S 1685. November 11, 2015.


The Amateur Radio Parity Act of 2015 -- H.R.1301 in the US House of Representative and S 1685 in the US Senate --  would direct the FCC to extend its rules relating to reasonable accommodation of Amateur Service communications to private land use restrictions. US Rep Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) introduced HR 1301 on March 4 with 12 original cosponsors from both sides of the aisle -- seven Republicans and five Democrats in the US House.  US Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS) introduced S 1685 on June 25, with Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) as the original cosponsor, into the US Senate.

The Amateur Radio Parity Act would require the FCC to amend its Part 97 Amateur Service rules to apply the three-part test of the PRB-1 federal pre-emption policy to include homeowners association regulations and deed restrictions, often referred to as "covenants, conditions, and restrictions" (CC&Rs). At present, PRB-1 only applies to state and local zoning laws and ordinances. The FCC has been reluctant to extend the same legal protections to include private land-use agreements without direction from Congress.

H.R. 1301 recently had a hearing before the House Energy and Commerce Committee's subcommittee on Communications and Technology . Rep Greg Walden, W7EQI (R-OR), chairs the  subcommittee . A Committee mark-up session and vote will be scheduled shortly. S 1685 has passed the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee's subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation and the Internet, which is chaired by the bill's sponsor, Wicker. Full consideration has not been scheduled yet.

ARRL members are urged to contact their members of both the House and the Senate, asking them to sign on to the bill as a co-sponsor. Route letters for your member of Congress to:

ARRL

Attn  Amateur Radio Parity Act grassroots campaign

225 Main St

Newington CT 06111

 

Clarity on Amateur Radio Parity

Some misconceptions about the Amateur Radio Parity Act are being circulated. Please read the document "Clarity on Amateur Radio Parity" here.

 

For more information on both of the bills, please refer to the information in the two areas below - HR 1301 for information about the House version and S 1685 for the Senate version.

About HR 1301

About S 1685

  • S 1685 - Full Text

  • What will S 1685 do?

    Most importantly, it will ensure that every ham in the US, regardless of the community they live in, will have the opportunity to practice their avocation from their own homes without breaking any rules or fear of reprisal.

     

    If enacted, it would direct the FCC to extend the the reasonable accomodation protections to those amateurs who are living in deed-restricted communities.  Known as "CC&Rs" (covenants, conditions and restrictions) these are the prohibitions and limitations placed on properties by builders or home-owner associations (HOAs) which prevent licensed Amateurs from erecting even modest antennas. 

     

    The Amateur Radio Parity Act would not give Amateurs "carte blanche" to do whatever they wished. It would require HOAs and other private land use regulations to extend reasonable accommodation to Amateurs wishing to erect antennas.

     

  • What are the key talking points for S 1685?

    The American Radio Relay League, Incorporated (ARRL) is the representative of Amateur Radio in the United States. There are more than 720,000 Amateur Radio operators licensed by the FCC. ARRL’s membership of approximately 170,000 includes the most active and dedicated Amateur Radio operators.

    Radio Amateurs (hams) provide, on a volunteer basis, public service, emergency, and disaster relief communications using radio stations located in their residences. Their services cost taxpayers nothing. They are provided at no cost to any served agency or to any government entity. FEMA has stated that when Amateur Radio operators are needed in an emergency or disaster, they are really needed.

    Served agencies include the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and the Department of Defense. Disaster relief planning exercises and emergency communications certification courses guarantee trained operators throughout the United States.

    Land use restrictions that prohibit the installation of outdoor antenna systems are the largest threat to Amateur Radio emergency and public service communications. They are escalating quickly and exponentially. An outdoor antenna is critical to the effectiveness of an Amateur Radio station. Typically, all Amateur Radio antennas are prohibited in residential areas by private land use regulations. In other instances, prior approval of the homeowners’ association is required for any outdoor antenna installation. However, there are no standards to determine whether or not approval will be granted by the homeowners’ association.

    Twenty-nine years ago, the FCC found that there was a “strong Federal interest” in supporting effective Amateur Radio communications. FCC also found that zoning ordinances often unreasonably restricted Amateur Radio antennas in residential areas. The FCC, in a docket proceeding referred to as “PRB-1”, created a three-part test for municipal regulations affecting Amateur Radio communications. State or local land use regulations: (A) cannot preclude Amateur Radio communications; (B) must make “reasonable accommodation” for Amateur Radio communications; and (C) must constitute the “minimum practicable restriction” in order to accomplish a legitimate municipal purpose. 

    ►The FCC did not extend this policy to private land use regulations at the time. However, the Telecommunications Act of 1996 ordered the FCC to enact regulations that preempted municipal and private land use regulation over small satellite dish antennas and television broadcast antennas in residences. The FCC found that: (a) it does have jurisdiction to preempt private land use regulations that conflict with Federal policy; and (b) that private land use regulations are entitled to less deference than municipal regulations. This is because the former are premised exclusively on aesthetics considerations. 

    ►ARRL repeatedly requested that FCC revisit its decision and apply its policy equally to all types of land use regulations which unreasonably restrict or preclude volunteer, public service communications. FCC said that it would do so upon receiving some guidance from Congress in this area. 

    ►The FCC’s Wireless Telecommunications Bureau, in an Order released November 19, 1999, stated that the Commission “strongly encourage(s)” homeowner’s associations to apply the “no prohibition, reasonable accommodation, and least practicable regulation” three-part test to private land use regulation of Amateur Radio antennas:


    “Notwithstanding, the clear policy statement that was set forth in PRB-1 excluding restrictive covenants in private contractual agreements as being outside the reach of our limited preemption …we nevertheless strongly encourage associations of homeowners and private contracting parties to follow the principle of reasonable accommodation and to apply it to any and all instances of amateur service communications where they may be involved.” Order, DA 99-2569 at ¶ 6.


    ►Pursuant to the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012, the FCC conducted a study on“the uses and capabilities of Amateur Radio Service communications in emergencies and disaster relief.” It submitted to the House and Senate a Report on the findings of its study. The FCC docket proceeding created an impressive record demonstrating the severe and pervasive impact of private land use regulations on Amateur Radio emergency communications. The record in the docket proceeding justifies the even application of FCC’s balanced, limited preemption policy to all types of land use regulation of Amateur Radio antennas. The FCC said, in effect, that should Congress instruct FCC to do so, it would expeditiously extend the policy.

    Therefore, we seek cosponsors for S 1685 – the Amateur Radio Parity Act of 2015 - which would provide for regulatory parity and uniformity in land use regulations as they pertain to Amateur Radio communications. It would do so by applying the existing FCC “reasonable accommodation” policy formally to all types of land use regulation.

  • Who are the current co-sponsors for S-1685?

    The Senate operates under different rules and procedures in regards to cosponsoring legislation.

    The current Sponsor/co-sponsor in the US Senate are:

    Sen Wicker, Roger F. [MS] (introduced 6/25/2015)  

    Sen Blumenthal, Richard [CT] - 6/25/2015

    Sen. Franken, Al [MN] - 11/05/2015

    Sen. Moran, Jerry [KS] - 11/17/2015

    Sen. Coons, Christopher A. [DE] - 5/9/2016

  • Who are my United States Senators?

  • Is there a sample letter I can use to contact my Senators?

    A draft letter for your two US Senators is available here.

    Use this letter only for contacting your member of the US Senate. There is a different letter for members of the US House in the section on HR 1301,) When sending a letter to a member of Congress, please keep in mind a couple of things:

    1)  Please make sure you address the letters to your individual Senators . You can verify their information here. Letters sent simply "Dear Senator" can not be delivered.

    2) Letters on a Senate Bill sent to a member of the US House (or vice versa) are not useful.  Misaddressed letters, such as calling a member of the US House "Senator Such-and-such" can not be delivered.

    3) You must sign your letter and include your mailing address.  Letters that are unsigned or that do not include your address can not be delivered.

  • Where should I send my letter supporting S 1685?

    ARRL Members are asked to send their letters, addressed to their members of Senate to:

    ARRL

    Attn: S 1685 Grassroots campaign

    225 Main St

    Newington CT 06111

    If you wish to send a signed letter that has then been converted into a PDF, it can be emailed to reginfo@arrl.org Please include the phrase "S 1685 Grassroot Letter" in the SUBJECT field of your email.

  • Why does the ARRL request I send my letter to the ARRL instead of simply mailing it to my Member of the US Senate?

     

    There are several reasons.  First, because of security concerns, it can take from six to eight weeks for a letter sent directly to a Senator's office to be delivered.  All mail to their office is delivered to a holding facility to be screened to problems before they are finally sorted and delivered.

    Second, and as important, when the ARRL receives your letter, it can be combined with other letters to your Senator and hand-delivered to their office on Capitol Hill.  This provides an additional opportunity for our Washington team to have a face-to-face meeting with the key staff in each Senator's office.  A stack of letters delivered at the same time makes a large impression.