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HR-1301

Amateur Radio Parity Act of 2015

Today, I would like to provide an update regarding the progress on HR-1301, the Amateur Radio Parity Act of 2015. Currently there exists a federal pre-emption policy, known as “PRB-1”, requiring local zoning boards and building departments to ‘reasonably accommodate’ amateur radio antennas. It has been in place for many years and has successfully assisted amateur radio operators in obtaining building permits for their ham radio towers. Fortunately this is not a wide-spread issue in the USVI, as ham towers are a permitted use in most districts. What has become an issue is that many home owner’s covenants (CCRs) prohibit ham towers and/or antennas. The FCC, the US Congress, FEMA and many other support organizations have long recognized the public service value of ham radio. Just ask any long-time Virgin islanders how important ham radio was after Lenny, Marilyn, or Hugo.

There is currently a bill which has been introduced in the US Congress to extend applicability of PRB-1 to preempt local home owner’s CCRs to ‘reasonably accommodate’ ham radio antennas. “The Amateur Radio Parity Act of 2015 — H.R.1301 — has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives. The measure would direct the FCC to extend its rules relating to reasonable accommodation of Amateur Service communications to private land use restrictions. (The very short bill can be viewed at: http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c114:H.R.1301: There are currently 44 members of Congress who have co-sponsored the bill, including our neighboring Congressman from Puerto Rico. Here is what the ham radio national association, (American Radio Relay League – “ARRL”) says about it: http://www.arrl.org/hr-1301

The ARRL has joined the 21st century in regards to Grassroots support. Rather than having a handful of ARRL staff/officials driving legislation, the new paradigm is that of the grassroots movement. ARRL members are now being mobilized within their congressional districts as constituents of elected government officials. These officials now know who we are, what we do, and that we vote!

The ARRL, staff, directors, and elected officers have made numerous visits to Capitol Hill to visit representatives, and solicit their co-sponsorship. This has been very successful, but we have a long way to go. HR-1301 is well on its way, but we are working very hard on finding a sponsor and co-sponsor in the Senate. Talks are proceeding, and we hope to have an announcement soon.

Individually, you may not be subject to CC&R;’s, but many are. Those that are affected by CC&R;’s are increasing exponentially. In 1970, there were approximately 2.1 million residents affected by CC&R;’s. By 2011, 62.3 million were affected; and that was four years ago! Whether or not you are currently affected by CC&R;’s, we ask that you support this effort on behalf of all amateur radio operators!

So what can you do, as an individual amateur? The answer is that a few minutes you spend in assisting the ARRL is highly valuable. I ask that the very minimum that you do is to send your Representative an e-mail via their website. You may do this by:

1) Go to: https://plaskett.house.gov/contact.

2) Enter your contact information.

3) Enter your e-mail address

4) In the ‘Select the Issue’ pull-down menu, select ‘Science, Technology & Communications’ category.

5) Cut and Paste the sample letter below into the e-mail box, personalize as necessary, and hit “Send”.

That’s the minimum I ask you to do. NUMBERS are important!

IF you are an ARRL MEMBER, and want to make additional impact, address your letter to Delegate Plaskett and SEND IT TO THE ARRL. ARRL then personally takes the stacks of letters to Washington, DC and meets with Congressional Representatives face-to-face.

Two ways to get your letter to the ARRL:

1) Edit the letter template (date, callsign & address blocks) and print it out

2) Sign the letter

Either:

3a) Scan the letter & e-mail to REGINFO@ARRL.ORG with the subject “HR-1301 Grassroots Letter” in the subject line

3b) Mail the Letter to:

ARRL
Attn: Grassroots campaign
225 Main Street
Newington, CT 06111

Having those letters in hand by ARRL officials visiting the Representatives show that they are indeed representing constituents within their district.

Sample Letter to VI Delegate Stacy Plaskett

{INSERT DATE}

The Honorable Rep. Stacy Plaskett (D-VI)
509 Cannon HOB
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Representative Plaskett:

I am a constituent in your District and I want to bring an issue to your attention. I am a federally licensed Amateur Radio operator, one of nearly three-quarters of a million licensees of the Federal Communications Commission in the United States.

We provide communications support for, and participate in public service events on behalf of our communities. During and in the aftermath of disasters and emergencies, when other forms of communications are unavailable, we provide communications for first responders and Federal, state and local governmental agencies and non-governmental agencies, including the Red Cross and Salvation Army; for the United States Military through the Military Auxiliary Radio System (MARS); and to our neighbors when communications systems are overloaded or fail. Radio Amateurs contribute to the future of telecommunications as we participate in the development of innovative technology in this digital age. Amateur Radio is non-commercial, and we provide our services at no charge to anyone.

We cannot do any of these things, however, unless we can erect an outdoor antenna at our residences. Recently, a bi-partisan Bill, H.R. 1301 – “The Amateur Radio Parity Act”, was introduced by Congressman Adam Kinzinger (IL-16) with Congressman Joe Courtney (CT-02) and eleven additional original co-sponsors. HR 1301 directs the FCC to extend their existing PRB-1 regulations of “reasonable accommodation” of Amateur Radio communications to include private land use regulators. This would afford us the ability to negotiate with homeowner’s associations in residential developments. Private land use regulations routinely include restrictions that completely preclude Amateur Radio communications operators from installing any type of outdoor antenna system. The “reasonable accommodation” policy has for 30 years applied to municipal zoning ordinances. This Bill would extend the policy to operators living under private land use restrictions. The FCC has asked Congress for guidance in this area and this Bill provides it.

As your constituent, I am asking that you support the bill by signing-on as a cosponsor. Please contact Rep. Kinzinger’s office to do so. If you have any questions, please contact ARRL, the national association for Amateur Radio, attention Dan Henderson, at 860.594.0236. Thank you.

Sincerely,

{INSERT LICENSEE NAME & CALL}
{INSERT LICENSEE ADDRESS}