Michigan PRB-1 law update: action needed

This just in from our Section Manager….Dan 

Here is an important update from our State Government Liaison, Ed Hude, WA8QJE on the status of the PRB-1 project here in Michigan.

On September 17, 2013, Senators Rick Jones and David Robinson introduced Senate Bill Number 493.  The bill was referred to the Committee on Energy and Technology. Currently, Senate Bill 493 has not been acted upon and is still in the Committee on Energy and Technology.

This is where I need your help. I am asking that each and every one of you contact the Committee Chair, Mike Nofs and the Committee Members to encourage them to take action on this bill. The best way for this to happen is by sending an email message to Senator Nofs and to the members of the Energy and Technology Committee.

The following is a suggestion as to what to include in your message. If you deviate from this message, please be respectful and communicate in a professional tone. Here are the email addresses to use and instructions on how to get your message to the Senators of the committee.


Please be sure to carbon copy or “cc:” both myself (wa8qje@arrl.net) and our Section Manager Larry Camp, WB8R (wb8r@arrl.org).

You do not need to be a licensed operator to send this message.  Even your spouse can send a message. (Just be sure to not place a call sign in the signature if he/she is not an amateur.) Let’s work together and get this moving forward!!! Thank you.





Senator ___________,

I am asking that you please give consideration to scheduling SB 0493 for review and passage within the Committee of Energy and Technology. Senate Bill 0493 if passed will recognize the Federal Communications Commission pre-emption of PRB-1. This will help all licensed Amateur Radio Operators across the State of Michigan, especially in the times of needed emergency communications.  Your assistance as well as that of the Committee members is urgently needed.


(Name) (Call sign)
(Email Address)


  1. Help me out here, Dan – what is PRB-1 and why is it important? I’m missing the back story here.

  2. Good point. PRB-1 was a document issued by the FCC to give local zoning authorities guidance in enacting and enforcing local ordinances regarding antenna structures. Basically, it says that local governments must reasonably accommodate amateur radio antenna installations. Some municipalities have been unreasonable. One municipality in California, for example, passed an ordinance that an antenna structure could be no more than ten feet tall.

    There are many instances of this around the country, and hams have taken those municipalities to court, citing PRB-1 as their rationale for being allowed to erect a higher antenna structure. The goal of this legislation would be to make the principles in PRB-1 part of Michigan law, obviating the need for going to court over this.

    There is a pretty good page on the ARRL website that goes into more detail.

    One thing to note is that PRB-1 does not cover restrictions in homeowner CCRs. These are private contracts, willing entered into by homeowners. If you buy a house and agree to those restrictions, then you must abide by them.

  3. Fred W8ZLK says:

    I have mixed feelings about PRB-1. One problem is that many amateurs don’t make “reasonable” effort to hide their antennae (I did) and erect big/ugly/shiny towers and big Yagis/rotators/many guy lines, etc. Someone needs to design a nice looking tower, something artsy with a spiral or something.

    I think the emergency claim is just an excuse to allow big DX antenna and towers. A wire antenna hidden in trees w/battery powered amp would work fine for that purpose. In many cases, emergency ops would be using mobile setups.

    Fred W8ZLK

    • Fred (W8ZLK) – the trouble with your opinion is that it is your opinion, your judgment. One mans opinion (that a reasonable antenna is a wire hidden in trees) is one mans infringement on basic freedoms. In other words, what’s to stop someone else to say “actually any antenna over 5 feet high” is too much. You see, that’s the trouble with government. People innately want to control other people and that is wrong. For the record, a hidden wire in trees will no achieve communication objectives for most desired distances at his/her chosen time and frequency.

      • Hams often make do with what they have. Many are having lots of fun with wires hidden in trees.

        Actually, it’s up to the courts, one of our branches of government, to decide based on the Constitution, the document that is the basis of our government, to decide if “any antenna over 5 feet high is too much.” When people feel that their rights are being infringed upon, they can take them to court. Right or wrong, that’s the way our system works.

    • Yes at the emergency site temporary antennas would be used, however you are trying to get a message out. The receivers have to have effective antenna systems to hear your call for help.

  4. I understand what PRB-1 is about and its’ purpose but what do the letters PRB stand for?

    • Dan KB6NU says:

      Got me. I went to the FCC website to see if they define PRB there, but couldn’t find anything defining PRB. It may not be an acronym for anything. The complete title of the original PRB-1 is “Federal Preemption of State and Local Regulations Pertaining to Amateur Radio Facilities, Memorandum Opinion and Order, PRB-1, 101 FCC 2d 952 (1985) (PRB-1).”

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