Sen Roger Wicker (R-MS), who is the sponsor of the Amateur Radio Parity Act (S. 1685) in the US Senate, has praised the bill’s approval by the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. The measure cleared the committee on November 18. Wicker is a senior committee member and chairs the Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, and the Internet, to which the bill was referred. The bipartisan legislation, introduced in June by Wicker and Sen Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), awaits consideration by the full Senate.
“Amateur Radio operators provide valuable communications support during times of natural disasters,” Wicker said in a statement released on November 18. “This bill would help ensure their ability to operate emergency response systems regardless of their location and at no cost to the taxpayer. These networks are a proven resource for staying prepared, and preparedness is perhaps our best defense against unpredictable weather and other hazards that might befall our state.”
The bill calls on the FCC to apply its “reasonable accommodation” standard to private land use restrictions and offer Amateur Radio operators the ability to negotiate with subdivisions that now preclude outdoor ham antennas. “This process would preserve the decision-making authority of homeowners associations over the community’s aesthetic interests,” Wicker’s statement said.
Wicker said that in times of emergency, Amateur Radio operators “provide communications network backup when first responder network repeaters and infrastructure are not working.” He noted Amateur Radio’s response in supporting communication with responding agencies in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, “when the primary emergency response network was down.”
The Senate bill, S. 1685, now has three cosponsors. The House version of the legislation, H.R. 1301, has 114 cosponsors.
More information on this legislation is available on the ARRL website.