A Capitol Hill lockdown delayed the start of the Energy and Commerce Committee markup session on July 12. Police had ordered the lockdown while investigating a suspicious item found in an employee’s backpack earlier in the day. Once the session did get under way about 40 minutes late, Committee Chairman Rep Fred Upton (R-MI) spoke briefly in support of H.R. 1301 and an “Amendment in the Nature of a Substitute to H.R. 1301.” In June, the ARRL and the Community Associations Institute (CAI) — the national association of homeowners associations (HOAs) — announced that they had reached consensus on the bill’s provisions.
“Just as the law recognizes that access to broadcast satellite communications are an important part of our national information infrastructure, so too should we recognize the role of Amateur Radio,” Upton said at the session, orally reprising the opening statement he’d prepared for the June 22 markup that was postponed. “This is especially important as Amateur Radio operators can serve a crucial role in providing communications in the wake of natural disasters and other times when commercial communications networks might be unavailable.”
Upton said the substitute bill language reached by the ARRL and CAI represented “a good-faith compromise between the two parties most impacted by this bill: Amateurs and community associations.” Upton is not an H.R. 1301 cosponsor.
While many of the committee’s members skipped the hearing, perhaps as a result of the Capitol Hill lockdown, two members also mentioned H.R. 1301 favorably in their opening statements. Rep Frank Pallone (D-NJ) said he also supported the substitute language for the measure. “Amateur Radio provides essential services in times of emergency,” Pallone said. “I support the bipartisan amendment in the nature of a substitute negotiate by Chairman [Greg] Walden, [W7EQI], and ranking member [Rep Anna] Eshoo. It addresses issues raised by stakeholders, while providing Amateur Radio services better access to build facilities.”
Rep Eshoo (D-CA) said she was pleased that agreement was reached on the Parity Act bill, which, she said, “would make it easier for Amateur Radio operators to install the antennas they need…while also providing homeowners associations flexibility to establish reasonable rules regarding the size and the appearance of these antennas.” She said the substitute language represented “a bipartisan compromise.”
Neither Eshoo nor Pallone are among the 126 cosponsors of H.R. 1301.
The Energy and Commerce Committee will reconvene on July 13 at 4:30 PM to consider the bills before it in detail.
More information on the Amateur Radio Parity Act, including a copy of the complete substitute amendment agreed to by ARRL and CAI, is available on the ARRL website.