ARRL urges promoting passage of the Amateur Radio Parity Act, HR1301

Undoubtedly I’m in a minority about this topic because it is my considered opinion the “Amateur Radio Parity Act, HR1301” will be a public relations disaster for Amateur Radio.  My other deeply rooted concern about this piece of legislation is it inserts the Federal Government, an organization we all know has only our best interests at heart, right into the middle of contracts between private parties.  Oh, the motive seems sincere and, ostensibly, the Feds have only a role as mediators, but we all know how thoroughly limitations written into laws are respected by the Federal Government.

When HR 1301 was first introduced, I looked into the biographical information Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) had posted on his website.  I was surprised by what WASN’T there – any mention of involvement with Amateur Radio at any point in his life.  Nothing. Zip. Zilch. Nada.  What I saw was a freshman Congressman introducing a bill with no context.  I was, and remain, suspicious of the motives.

Why do I foresee public relations problems?  Consider:  You obtained your ham license many years ago.  Maybe, like me, long before you were married or even had a job.  The years passed and one day you found yourself looking for a place to retire.  You always had visions of owning enough land to put in an antenna farm, but the spouse you acquired along the way insists on living in a restricted subdivision, one that happens to have an aggressive Homeowners’ Association (HOA).

No big deal you figure, the FCC has your back as you submit your proposed antenna project to the HOA.  Back comes an immediate reply: “No way will you be allowed to erect any kind of antenna system because the contract you signed when you purchased your property says so.”

You respond, “Way.  The Federal Government says you must ‘reasonably’ accommodate me.”  After much haggling, probably involving lawyers, you successfully force approval of your project.

None of your neighbors has any interest in Amateur Radio other than the way it is affecting the purity of their neighborhood.  From the outset of the dispute, the invitations to neighborhood gatherings dried up.  No more invitations to backyard barbecues, golf games, book club meetings.  You will have become a pariah.  Which, by the way, requires only a two letter change in the title of the bill to make it “The Amateur Radio Pariah Act.”

I didn’t mention the expected national media coverage of the dispute which is how the public relations disaster will be launched.

I hope I’m wrong.  Only time will tell.

For your reference, below is the latest broadcast email from ARRL.  They have been gushing over this bill since it was first introduced.  It shows.

Whether you do as they ask and use their link to send their canned message to urge your Senator to vote to approve passage is up to you.

–W5DET

DISCLAIMER:  I have personal experience dealing with HOA’s as a building contractor.  My own home has room for the aforementioned antenna farm and no HOA.

SB QST @ ARL $ARLB032
ARLB032 Amateur Radio Parity Act Passes in the US House of
Representatives

ZCZC AG32
QST de W1AW  
ARRL Bulletin 32  ARLB032
From ARRL Headquarters  
Newington CT  September 14, 2016
To all radio amateurs 

SB QST ARL ARLB032
ARLB032 Amateur Radio Parity Act Passes in the US House of
Representatives!

"The bill is passed without objection." With those words, Amateur
Radio history was made on September 12, when the US House of
Representatives approved the Amateur Radio Parity Act, H.R. 1301 on
a voice vote under a suspension of the rules. The focus of the
campaign to enact the legislation into law now shifts to the US
Senate. The House victory culminated many years of effort on ARRL's
part to gain legislation that would enable radio amateurs living in
deed-restricted communities to erect antennas that support Amateur
Radio communication. The measure calls on the FCC to amend its Part
97 rules "to prohibit the application to amateur stations of certain
private land-use restrictions, and for other purposes." While
similar bills in past years gained some traction on Capitol Hill, it
was not until the overwhelming grassroots support from the Amateur
Radio community for H.R. 1301 shepherded by ARRL that a bill made it
this far. The legislation faces significant obstacles to passage in
the US Senate, however.

"This is huge step in our effort to enact legislation that will
allow radio amateurs who live in deed-restricted communities the
ability to construct an effective outdoor antenna," ARRL President
Rick Roderick, K5UR, said. "Thanks to everyone for their help in
this effort thus far. Now we must turn our full attention to getting
the bill passed in the Senate."

ARRL Hudson Division Director Mike Lisenco, N2YBB, who chairs the
ARRL Board's Legislative Advocacy Committee, has been heavily
involved in efforts to move H.R. 1301 forward. "This has been a
multiyear effort that is finally seeing some light," he said. "The
passage of the bill in the House is a major accomplishment, due to
the hard work of so many - from the rank-and-file member to the
officers and directors."

Lisenco said it's not a time to rest on our laurels. "We are only
halfway there. The focus now shifts to our effort in the Senate," he
said. "We are beginning a massive e-mail campaign in which we need
every member to write their two Senators using our simplified
process. You will be hearing from President Roderick and from your
Directors, asking you to go to our 'Rally Congress' page. Using your
ZIP code, e-mails will be generated much like our recent letter
campaign. You'll fill in your name and address and press Enter. The
e-mails will be sent directly to your Senators without you having to
search through their websites."

The "Rally Congress" web page can be found at,
https://arrl.rallycongress.net/ctas/urge-senate-to-support-amateur-radio-parity-act
.

Lisenco said getting these e-mails to members' Senators is a
critical part of the process. "Those numbers matter! Please help us
help you by participating in this effort," he said.

As the amended bill provides, "Community associations should fairly
administer private land-use regulations in the interest of their
communities, while nevertheless permitting the installation and
maintenance of effective outdoor Amateur Radio antennas. There exist
antenna designs and installations that can be consistent with the
aesthetics and physical characteristics of land and structures in
community associations while accommodating communications in the
Amateur Radio services."

During this week's limited debate, the House bill's sponsor, Rep
Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), thanked ARRL and the Community Associations
Institute (CAI) for reaching an agreement to move the bill forward
"in a bipartisan and very positive manner." He pointed out to his
colleagues that Amateur Radio antennas are prohibited outright in
some areas.

"For some this is merely a nuisance," Kinzinger said, "but for
others - those that use their Amateur Radio license for life-saving
emergency communications - a dangerous situation can be created by
limiting their ability to establish effective communication for
those in need."

Kinzinger said that in emergencies, hams can provide "a vital and
life-saving function" when conventional communication systems are
down. He also praised the Military Auxiliary Radio System (MARS), a
US Department of Defense-sponsored program, comprised largely of
Amateur Radio volunteers, that also supports communication during
emergencies and disasters.

Cosponsor US Rep Joe Courtney (D-CT) also urged the bill's passage.
"This is not just a feel-good bill," Courtney said, recounting how
Hurricane Sandy brought down the power grid, and "we saw all the
advanced communications we take for granted...completely fall by the
wayside." Ham radio volunteers provided real-time communication in
the storm's wake, he said, saying the legislation was a way "to
rebalance things" for radio amateurs who choose to live in
deed-restricted neighborhoods by enabling them to install
"non-intrusive antennas."

Courtney noted that he spoke recently with FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler,
and said that Wheeler "strongly supports this legislation."

Leading up to the vote, Rep Paul Tonko (D-NY) also spoke in support
of the legislation, calling it a commonsense approach that would
build "fairness into the equation for Amateur Radio operators" in
dealing with homeowners associations.

The earlier U.S. Senate version of the Amateur Radio Parity Act, S.
1685, no longer is in play, and the Senate is expected to vote by
unanimous consent on the version of H.R. 1301 that was adopted by
the House on September 12.
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/EX