Early Efforts on Behalf of “The Amateur Radio Parity Act” HR.4969 Bearing Fruit
Initial efforts to secure additional co-sponsors for “The Amateur Radio Parity Act of 2014” — HR.4969 — are starting to produce results. As of August 5, 17 co-sponsors have signed onto the bill, which was introduced in the US House of Representatives with bipartisan support in late June. Additional co-sponsors are anticipated. HR.4969 would call on the FCC to apply the “reasonable accommodation” three-part test of the PRB-1 federal pre-emption policy to private land-use restrictions regarding antennas. The bill’s primary sponsor is Rep Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), and it received initial co-sponsorship from Rep Joe Courtney (D-CT), who attended the ARRL National Centennial Convention on July 19 to speak with League officials and those attending the event.
“With Congress on break for the month of August, we are encouraging our members to meet with their representatives while they are home on break in their districts, and urge their support for HR.4969,” said ARRL Regulatory Information Manager Dan Henderson, N1ND. “We’re very pleased with the initial response, but the more noise we make, the better our chances.” He emphasized that a successful outcome requires as many co-sponsors as possible, and that’s where ARRL members come into play in their role as voters and constituents.
The League has opened a HR.4969 page, which contains information and guidance for clubs and individuals promoting efforts to gain co-sponsors for the measure by contacting their members of Congress. The web page includes a sample letter to a member of Congress and a list of “talking points.” For in-person visits, the League recommends organizing small teams of knowledgeable, articulate radio amateurs to approach lawmakers one to one to plead their case.
The limited PRB-1 pre-emption currently applies only to state and municipal land-use ordinances. The FCC has indicated its reluctance to provide the same legal protections from private land-use agreements — often called covenants, conditions, and restrictions or CC&Rs — without direction from Congress.
HR.4969 has been referred to the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Rep Greg Walden, W7EQI (R-OR), chairs that panel’s Communications and Technology Subcommittee, which will consider the measure. The League had approached Walden, who helped to engineer the bill.
Henderson said that in response to the “Get Behind HR.4969” effort at the Centennial Convention and last month’s edition of the Legislative Update Newsletter, more than 2000 individuals drafted letters to their congressional representatives, urging them to co-sponsor the bill. He asked League members to e-mail or mail letters directed to their US House of Representatives member to ARRL Headquarters for forwarding. E-mails will be printed beforehand, he noted. Henderson explained that this approach speeds delivery, since individual pieces of mail to members of Congress are scanned for threats. Henderson said he’s already received another 200 or so letters to forwarding to House members.
Direct letters to HR.4969 Letter Campaign, ARRL, 225 Main St, Newington, CT 06111. If e-mailing, include the bill’s number, HR.4969, in your subject line. Henderson pointed out that all correspondence to members of Congress must be signed and include the constituent’s mailing address. “We’re only targeting members of the US House and not approaching members of the US Senate right now,” he said. “We’ll handle that when the time comes.”
Henderson said a campaign opposing passage of HR.4969 also is underway and gaining steam. “The leading opposition group is putting out a lot of misinformation — that the bill would invalidate all CC&Rs,” he said. “HR.4969 only seeks ‘reasonable accommodation’ for Amateur Radio communication. It would give you a seat at the table with your homeowners’ association, requiring it to arrive at a reasonable antenna accommodation, instead of imposing an absolute and outright ban on all antennas."