ARRL prez calls for hams to support for HR.4969, the Amateur Radio Parity Act

ARRLIn a video, ARRL President Kay Craigie, N3KN, has issued an urgent call to action to all radio amateurs to get behind a grassroots campaign to promote co-sponsorship of HR.4969, “The Amateur Radio Parity Act of 2014.” HR.4969 would require the FCC to extend PRB-1 coverage to restrictive covenants. It was introduced in the US House with bipartisan support on June 25 at the request of the ARRL, which worked with House staffers to draft the legislation. The measure would require the FCC to apply the “reasonable accommodation” three-part test of the PRB-1 federal pre-emption policy to private land-use restrictions regarding antennas. The bill’s primary sponsor is Rep Adam Kinzinger (R-IL). It had initial co-sponsorship from Rep Joe Courtney (D-CT).

President Craigie also exhorted all radio amateurs regarding support for HR.4969 in remarks appearing in the The ARRL Legislative Update Newsletter. Craigie stressed in the Newsletter that the legislation stands to benefit not just today’s radio amateurs but those in the future.

“Chances are, those Americans of the future will grow up in communities having private land use restrictions,” she said “That is the way the country is going, and it is very bad for Amateur Radio. How can Amateur Radio thrive, if more and more Americans cannot have reasonable antennas at home? You and I have to stand for the Amateurs of the second century.”

If the measure passes the 113th Congress, it would require the FCC to amend the Part 97 Amateur Service rules to apply PRB-1 coverage to include homeowners’ association regulations and deed restrictions, often referred to as “covenants, conditions, and restrictions” (CC&Rs). At present, PRB-1 only applies to state and local zoning laws and ordinances.

An HR.4969 page now is open on the ARRL website. It contains information and resources for clubs and individuals wishing to support efforts to gain co-sponsors for the measure by contacting their members of Congress.

ARRL to sign MOA with FEMA, PRB-1 to extend to HOAs?

In addition to the news about a new director for the Great Lakes Division, this week’s ARRL Letter also had two other items of interest:

FEMA Administrator W. Craig Fugate, KK4INZ

FEMA Administrator W. Craig Fugate, KK4INZ

ARRL, FEMA to Sign Memorandum of Agreement at National Centennial Convention
The ARRL and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will sign a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) at the ARRL National Centennial Convention, taking place July 17-19 at the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford. ARRL President Kay Craigie, N3KN, will join FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate, KK4INZ, on Friday, July 18, at 4:15 PM, in signing the MOA, which is aimed at fostering greater cooperation between the League and FEMA in the area of disaster communication and support. Fugate will speak at the Centennial Banquet later that evening, and more than 850 are expected to attend.

I’ll be very interested in reading this MOA…Dan

Grassroots Campaign Underway to Promote Co-Sponsorship of “Amateur Radio Parity Act”
A grassroots effort is underway to encourage radio amateurs to promote co-sponsorship of HR.4969, the Amateur Radio Parity Act. The measure, introduced in the US House with bipartisan support on June 25, calls on the FCC to apply the “reasonable accommodation” three-part test of the PRB-1 federal pre-emption policy to private land-use restrictions regarding antennas. The bill’s primary sponsor is Rep Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), and it has initial co-sponsorship from Rep Joe Courtney (D-CT). With Congress going on its August recess in a few weeks, the campaign is focusing on contacting Members of Congress or their staffers at or through their district offices during the break. Getting additional lawmakers to sign on as HR.4969 co-sponsors is considered essential to the bill’s success.

“This is the ideal time for you to develop small teams of constituents to approach members of Congress in their district offices,” said ARRL Hudson Division Director Mike Lisenco, N2YBB, a principal proponent of HR.4969. “Ideally, you’d want no more than three members to go to a meeting with a Member of Congress or top staff members. These need to be active, articulate individuals who present themselves well.” Individual radio amateurs or clubs also may wish to e-mail or write their representatives to urge them to cosponsor the bill.

The primary point to convey is that the greatest threat to Amateur Radio volunteer emergency and public service communication is restrictions that prohibit the installation of outdoor antenna systems. Nearly 30 years ago the FCC, in adopting its PRB-1 policy, acknowledged a “strong federal interest” in supporting effective Amateur Radio communication. In the intervening years, PRB-1 has helped many amateurs to overcome zoning ordinances that unreasonably restricted Amateur Radio antennas in residential areas. The 11-page PRB-1 FCC Memorandum Opinion and Order is codified at § 97.15(b) in the FCC Amateur Service rules, giving the regulation the same effect as a federal statute.

After the Telecommunications Act of 1996 ordered the FCC to enact regulations preempting municipal and private land-use regulation over small satellite dishes and broadcast TV antennas, the FCC further acknowledged that it has jurisdiction to preempt private land-use regulations that conflict with federal policy. At this point, PRB-1 only applies to state and local zoning laws and ordinances. The Commission has indicated that it won’t extend the policy to private land-use regulation unless Congress instructs it to do so.

If HR.4969 passes the 113th Congress, it would compel the FCC, within 120 days of the Bill’s passage, to amend the Part 97 Amateur Service rules to apply PRB-1 coverage to include homeowners’ association regulations and deed restrictions, often referred to as “covenants, conditions, and restrictions” (CC&Rs). HR.4969 has been referred to the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Rep Greg Walden, W7EQI (R-OR), chairs that panel’s Communications and Technology Subcommittee, which will consider the measure.

Among other tips, Lisenco advises groups setting up in-person visits with representatives to pick a leader, listen carefully, and leave behind information [see below] that supports your primary points, plus a business card. “Business cards are a big thing in DC,” he pointed out. “Make certain to take them when going to DC or a district office.”

“This isn’t rocket science, but it does take planning and the ability to state your case succinctly in no more than 15 minutes,” Lisenco advised. He said delegations should follow up with a thank you note within a day and a telephone call a week later.

An information sheet on HR.4969, a list of “talking points,” and a sample constituent letter to a Member of Congress will be available soon.

 

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 NOTE THAT IF THERE IS A LINK TO A WEB CONTACT FORM AFTER THE SENATOR’S NAME, YOU MUST GO TO THEIR WEBSITE TO SEND THE MESSAGE.  ALTERNATELY, YOU CAN SEND A FAX OR WRITTEN LETTER.

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.

Ed, WA8QJE

 

LETTER EXAMPLE: 

SUBJECT:  SB 0493

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.

Regards,

(Name) (Call sign)
(Address)
(Email Address)

ARRL Bulletin: FCC releases Congressionally-mandated study on amateur radio

[[ Basically, this is a pat on the back from the FCC. Nothing more, nothing less. It's better than a kick in the pants, though. My advice is that if you want to put up a tower, don't move into a housing development where you must sign an agreement that says you can't. D'oh!...Dan ]]

ZCZC AG23
QST de W1AW
ARRL Bulletin 22  ARLB022
From ARRL Headquarters
Newington CT  August 23, 2012

To all radio amateurs

On August 20 — in response to a Spring 2012 Congressional directive– the Federal Communications Commission released its findings on the Uses and Capabilities of Amateur Radio Service Communications in Emergencies and Disaster Relief: Report to Congress Pursuant to Section 6414 of the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012.

This report contains the FCC’s “review of the importance of emergency Amateur Radio Service communications relating to disasters, severe weather and other threats to lives and property in the United States; and recommendations for enhancements in the voluntary deployment of Amateur Radio operators in disaster and emergency communications and disaster relief efforts; and recommendations for improved integration of Amateur Radio operators in the planning and furtherance of initiatives of the federal government.” It also required “that the study identify impediments to enhanced Amateur Radio Service communications and provide recommendations regarding the removal of such impediments.”

“There are many positive things included in the FCC report to Congress,” said ARRL Regulatory Information Manager Dan Henderson, N1ND. “We are pleased that the Commission highlighted the existing Amateur Radio infrastructure to provide disaster and time-critical communications. They also recognized the flexibility of the Amateur Service in working with federal, state, local and tribal emergency service agencies to supplement existing communications. The affirmation of the value that Amateur Radio brings to the communities across the country is underscored by the suggestion that DHS work with state, local, and tribal authorities so they may develop disaster area access or credentialing policies for trained amateur operators, including a means for documenting their qualifications…”‘

While the FCC did hold Amateur Radio in a positive light in its discussion of emergency Amateur Radio Service communications, the FCC report was not as favorable in the portion of the study that addressed impediments to enhanced Amateur Radio Service communications. In the comments provided to the FCC as they prepared the study, the ARRL — as well as numerous individuals — cited the proliferation of specific land-use restrictions, such as deed restrictions and homeowners associations covenants, that prohibit the erection of even modest Amateur Radio antennas.

The ARRL cited that such restrictions now apply to tens of millions of homes and condominiums. In communities across every state, these restrictions make finding suitable living arrangements that would also allow amateurs to participate effectively in providing support communications nearly impossible to find. The FCC disagreed with that assessment stating “…our review of the record does not indicate that amateur operators are unable to find homes that are not subject to such restrictions. Therefore, at this time, we do not see a compelling reason for the Commission to revisit its previous determinations that preemption should not be expanded to CCRs.”

When considering any current rules that serve as impediments to enhanced Amateur Radio Service communications, the report did agree with the ARRL’s position, stating that “Commission rules that may be an impediment to enhanced Amateur Service emergency communications can, as the ARRL notes, be considered through the Commission’s rulemaking process. Consequently, we do not believe that Congressional action is necessary to address any of these issues.”

In the report, the FCC recommended that “DHS consult with the public safety, emergency management and Amateur Radio emergency communications associations and groups to identify training opportunities that will support better utilization of Amateur Radio operators for emergency communications, and to solicit views on how Amateur Radio capabilities could be further incorporated into response plans or initiatives. We also recommend that OEC include these recommendations in the NECP.”

Henderson noted that it is significant “that the FCC recommends efforts be continued by DHS to facilitate the training and utilization of Amateur Radio across the emergency and disaster response spectrum — from the public sector through to the various groups and organizations which provide support communications via the Amateur Service, including ARES, RACES, MARS or locally organized support groups. When served agencies and amateur groups plan and train cooperatively, it only enhances our abilities to serve our communities and the public.”

With the delivery of the FCC’s report to Congress, the ARRL will determine its next step in its efforts to find relief for amateurs who live under unduly restrictive private land-use regulations. “Our review of the FCC report shows that there is a lot to be done if amateurs living in deed-restricted properties are to receive even the limited relief they enjoy under the Commission’s PRB-1 ruling or the limited relief given to deed-restricted properties given by the FCC’s OTARD ruling,” Henderson said. “This means continuing ARRL’s efforts on Capitol Hill and continuing to seek a Congressional directive to the Commission to extend those limited preemptions to include prohibition of effective Amateur Radio antennas and support structure that are imposed by private land use restrictions. The FCC report to Congress is not the final action in this fight. It merely lays the groundwork for the next steps to be taken by the ARRL,” he concluded.

Read the complete FCC report on the web.

FCC collecting data on how antenna restrictions affect emergency communications

FCC LogoFrom ARRL HQ:

Do you live in a CC&R-restricted community or participate in EmComm activities? Have deed restrictions / HOA covenants prevented you from erecting amateur radio antennas? Have these restrictions prevented you from full participation in emergency communications activities during disasters?

If your answer is “Yes”, ARRL needs to hear about your experience.

As you are probably aware, Congress has directed the FCC to conduct a study of the uses and capabilities of Amateur Radio Service communications in emergencies and disaster relief. The FCC was directed to identify ” impediments to enhanced Amateur Radio Service communications, such as the effects of unreasonable or unnecessary private land use restrictions on residential antenna installations”. Finally, the study is to make “recommendations regarding the removal of such impediments.”

The FCC has issued a Public Notice – DA 12-523- soliciting input from the public as part of their study. The ARRL is gathering comments from the Amateur Radio community to present as part of its comments on the public notice.

The ARRL is looking specifically for input in two specific areas:

  • Recent Amateur Radio involvement in actual emergency communications and disaster relief;
  • Specific details about how CC&Rs and other private land use restrictions have impaired licensed Amateurs to participate fully in these disaster relief communications.

If your ability to participate in ARES, RACES, SKYWARN, CERT, or other emergency and disaster relief communications has been limited because the inability to have adequate antennas due to CC&Rs, you are asked to provide that information to the ARRL.

First, we recommend that you prepare a narrative of your exact situation, in as much detail as practical. Some areas for you to consider in writing your story might be:

  • Were there alternative properties without CC&Rs in the area you wished to reside?
  • What exactly does your CC&R allow / prohibit (please include a copy of the specific wording)
  • Have you applied for a waiver of the CC&R with the Home Owner’s Association / Architectural Review Committee but were denied? If so, what was the reason?

To assist you in sharing your information with the ARRL, please visit the special ARRL website built to allow you to readily provide the pertinent information at www.arrl.org/ccr-study-information

This page will present you with an overview of what we are asking and have links to the two forms for you to complete. Please be as factual as you can with the information you provide and please provide only information about events and activities in which you were directly involved.

If you wish to write out the details of your situation in advance, please do so. Then, they can be either uploaded to the website or they can be sent as an email attachment to an email sent to CCRinfo@arrl.org

Keep in mind that the FCC study does not apply to ordinances and zoning laws implemented by the government – such as towns, cities or counties. PRB-1 covers those situations.

TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE! Congress directed that the FCC provide the report back within 180-days and that clock is already counting. The FCC is only accepting comments for a 45-day period, which will end May 17,2012. In order for the ARRL to collate your information in a common report, we ask that you send in your information no later than WEDNESDAY APRIL 25. If you need more information, please contact reginfo@arrl.org The time to act is NOW!

Dan Henderson, N1ND
Regulatory Specialist