US Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS), who sponsored “The Amateur Radio Parity Act of 2015” in the Senate, had said the bill he introduced, with original cosponsor Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), would allow for transparency and equality in the regulatory process. S. 1685 and its identically worded US House version H.R. 1301 direct the FCC to provide “regulatory parity” for Amateur radio operators. Wicker said in a June 29 media release that the legislation would ensure that Amateur Radio operators are able to continue to provide “critical communications support at no cost to taxpayers.”
“This would be particularly beneficial in Mississippi and other rural states,” Wicker said. “During Hurricane Katrina, Mississippians learned firsthand the value of Amateur Radio, and its ability to provide information that could save lives in times of natural disasters.”
According to Wicker, the measure “ensures increased access to, and availability of, critical resources and communication tools” to first-responders. Added Blumenthal, “We have seen the effectiveness of these systems, and the need to provide these emergency response systems to Americans, regardless of where you live, is evident.”
Wicker pointed out that private land-use restrictions prevent many hams from installing functional outdoor antennas. “This bill would call on FCC to apply the reasonable accommodation policy evenly to all types of residential land use regulations and offer Amateur Radio operators the ability to negotiate with subdivisions that now have restrictions that preclude Amateur Radio antennas completely,” he said. “This could be accomplished without taking any jurisdiction away from homeowners associations and would protect neighborhood aesthetics.”
Wicker recalled that in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, Amateur Radio operators restored communication with FEMA, the Red Cross, and other disaster relief entities when the primary emergency response network was down.
The House version of the bill, H.R. 1301, was introduced in March Rep Adam Kinzinger (R-IL). According to Wicker, the House measure now has 84 bipartisan cosponsors, including Mississippi Rep Gregg Harper.