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ARRL General Bulletin ARLB015 (2014)

SB QST @ ARL $ARLB015
ARLB015 House Bill Would Require FCC to Extend PRB-1 Coverage to
Restrictive Covenants

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ARRL Bulletin 15  ARLB015
From ARRL Headquarters  
Newington CT  June 28, 2014
To all radio amateurs 

SB QST ARL ARLB015
ARLB015 House Bill Would Require FCC to Extend PRB-1 Coverage to
Restrictive Covenants

A bill with bipartisan support has been introduced in the US House
of Representatives that calls on the FCC to apply the "reasonable
accommodation" three-part test of the PRB-1 federal pre-emption
policy to private land-use restrictions. HR.4969, the "Amateur Radio
Parity Act of 2014" was introduced on June 25 at the request of the
ARRL, which worked with House staffers to draft the proposed
legislation. The bill's sponsor is Rep Adam Kinzinger (R-IL). It has
initial co-sponsorship from Rep Joe Courtney (D-CT). If the measure
passes the 113th Congress, it would require the FCC, within 120 days
of the Bill's passage, to amend the Part 97 Amateur Service rules to
apply PRB-1 coverage to include homeowners' association regulations
and deed restrictions, often referred to as "covenants, conditions,
and restrictions" (CC&Rs). Presently, PRB-1 only applies to state
and local zoning laws and ordinances.

"There is a strong federal interest in the effective performance of
Amateur Radio stations established at the residences of licensees,"
the bill states. "Such stations have been shown to be frequently and
increasingly precluded by unreasonable private land-use
restrictions, including restrictive covenants."

The 11-page PRB-1 FCC Memorandum Opinion and Order is codified at
Part 97.15(b) in the FCC Amateur Service rules, giving the
regulation the same effect as a federal statute. In short, PRB-1
states that local governments cannot preclude Amateur Radio
communications; they must "reasonably accommodate" amateur
operations, and the state and local regulations must be the minimum
practicable regulation to accomplish a legitimate governmental
interest. Subject to those guidelines, municipalities may still
establish regulations with respect to height, safety, and aesthetic
concerns.

For 28 years, FCC regulations have "prohibited the application to
Amateur Radio stations of state and local regulations that preclude
or fail to reasonably accommodate Amateur Service communications,"
the bill points out, "or that do not constitute the minimum
practicable regulation to accomplish a legitimate state or local
purpose." Since PRB-1 was enacted, the FCC has said several times
that it would prefer to have some guidance from Congress before
extending the policy to private land-use regulations.

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.

ARRL Hudson Division Director Mike Lisenco, N2YBB, is a principal
advocate for the current legislative initiative to gain PRB-1
recognition for CC&Rs. Lisenco said the most urgent task now is to
get additional co-sponsors to sign onto HR.4969.
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