ARRL once again is calling on its members to urge their US Senators to support the Amateur Radio Parity Act (H.R. 1301) when it comes up in the Senate during the “lame duck” session of Congress that adjourns in mid-December. The House of Representatives approved the bill in September, but if the Senate does not follow suit, the bill will die, and the entire process will have to be repeated. ARRL Hudson Division Director Mike Lisenco, N2YBB, who chairs the ARRL Board’s Legislative Advocacy Committee and has been heavily involved in efforts to move H.R. 1301 forward, said today, “The clock is ticking!”
“We begin the e-mail campaign once again, as the US Senate returns to work this week after a month-long hiatus,” Lisenco said. “We were just beginning to build momentum in the Senate following the unanimous passage of the Parity Act in the House when Congress shut down for the 4 weeks prior to Election Day.”
The task is simple: Go to our Rally Congress page, enter your ZIP code, fill in your name and address, press enter, and e-mails will go directly to your Senators. Members may do this, even if they have already contacted their US Senators for support.
“We have to remind our legislators that we are still here and that we need the Amateur Radio Parity Act to become law,” Lisenco stressed. “We must to do this now as we have, at most, only 4 weeks left in the session to get the bill passed this year. Otherwise, we will have to begin the entire process in 2017 with a new 115th Congress.”
There are no guarantees, Lisenco said, and we are subject to the political bickering that goes on daily between the parties, despite the fact that the bill is truly a bipartisan effort. “In order to have a chance at overcoming political obstacles that have little or nothing to do with the legislation, we need our voices to be heard,” he said. “And we need that input today!”
September’s victory in the US House was the culmination of many years of effort on ARRL’s part to gain legislation that would enable radio amateurs living in deed-restricted communities to erect efficient outdoor 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, and ARRL’s relentless and strident efforts on Capitol Hill that this bill made it this far.
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.”