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Parity Act Options Open Despite Removal from Defense Authorization Act Conference Report


ARRL Hudson Division Director and ad hoc Legislative Advocacy Committee Chair Mike Lisenco, N2YBB, says removal of Amateur Radio Parity Act (HR 555) language from the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) Conference Report this week was unfortunate, but does not kill the initiative. The Parity Act would ask the FCC to grant radio amateurs living in deed-restricted communities the right to install effective outdoor antennas. Lisenco said today that while the language was removed from the final NDAA Conference Report, other viable options remain to see the Parity Act succeed.

“We were disappointed the Parity language didn’t survive the conference process, but we do have other House-passed legislative vehicles that contain the language, including the Financial Services & General Government Appropriations bill, which funds the FCC,” Lisenco said.

“We have always known that getting this legislation across the finish line was going to take a lot of effort,” Lisenco said. “The legislative process is sometimes frustrating for ARRL members, but there is a way that our membership can be directly involved,” Lisenco explained. “By contacting your Representative and Senators and telling them you want their support for the Amateur Radio Parity Act, you can help lend thousands of voices to echo the work of the ad hoc Legislative Advocacy Committee on Capitol Hill,” Lisenco urged.

“It’s not unusual for legislation to stall in Congress. To remove the logjam, we need our elected representatives in both chambers to know how much of a priority this bill is for our avocation,” Lisenco explained. “The continued active support of ARRL members is critical in order to do that.”

Lisenco said that Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) has been the lead obstructionist during several stages of efforts to enact the Amateur Radio Parity Act, which has passed the US House of Representatives four times. Lisenco further added that that Nelson’s opposition makes no sense as Florida desperately needs effective Amateur Radio disaster communications during hurricanes, and hurricane season is rapidly approaching.

ARRL General Counsel Chris Imlay said the House-passed version of the NDAA included the Parity Act language, but the Senate bill did not, and a House-Senate conference committee had to resolve a variety of differences in the two passed bills. He said the Senate Armed Services Committee Ranking Member was one of the “Big Four” who would have had to agree to keep the Parity Act in the final NDAA Conference Report, but unfortunately, he deferred to Nelson on the matter; without Senator Nelson’s inexplicable opposition to our bill, it would have passed Congress long ago.

Imlay has assured ARRL members that the Parity Act would be beneficial to the many thousands of Amateurs now living in deed-restricted communities, as it would allow those hams to erect effective outdoor antennas notwithstanding the preclusive language of covenants or homeowner association (HOA) regulations.

“That is the principal benefit of this legislation,” he said. “As I see it, without the Parity Act, Amateur Radio will, over a relatively short period of time, face death by a thousand cuts, as more and more communities are subject to private land use regulations that prohibit antennas entirely.”

Lisenco said it was important to keep the legislative efforts in context. “A decade ago, our bill was being introduced every 2 years and gathering less than 2 dozen cosponsors before being forgotten and tossed in the heap. Since we’ve created the ad hoc Legislative Advocacy Committee, we have seen the bill pass the House of Representatives four times in less than 2 years and come within a hair of the President’s desk,” Lisenco continued. “Momentum is clearly on our side, and the wind is at our backs. We need our membership’s active engagement to provide that final push to propel the Parity Act across the finish line.” 



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