Today ARRL, the national association for Amateur Radio, praised Senators Roger Wicker (R-Mississippi) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut) for the introduction of the Amateur Radio Parity Act (S 1534), bipartisan legislation to help protect a vital radio service and national emergency response asset.
S 1534 is identical to H.R. 555, which passed the House of Representatives in January. The legislation takes vital steps necessary to protect the right of all Amateur Radio operators to practice their craft in their residences, ensuring that they are prepared when needed in the case of an emergency.
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Specifically, the Amateur Radio Parity Act will, for the first time, guarantee all Amateur Radio operators who are living in deed-restricted communities governed by a homeowner’s association (HOA), or subject to any private land use regulations, the right to construct and maintain an effective outdoor antenna at their residences.
Amateur, or “ham” Radio, is a popular voluntary communications service. More than 760,000 federally licensed participants communicate by radio locally, worldwide, and even into space. During an emergency, hams have the ability to operate independently of the public power grid and provide service without the need for normal communications infrastructure, such as cell phone networks or the Internet.
Because of this flexibility and independence, Amateur Radio is regularly used during natural disasters to help local emergency and served agencies respond when normal communications methods are disrupted. These skilled communications services are provided by radio amateurs free of charge, as a public service. The Amateur Radio Parity Act would ensure that amateurs living in deed-restricted communities would still be able to prepare for and to provide this vital community service during an emergency or disaster, by protecting their ability to install an effective outdoor antenna.
Importantly, the legislation also strikes a carefully crafted balance with HOAs, ensuring that local homeowners’ associations have a voice in the process.
ARRL President Rick Roderick said that “ARRL is grateful for the support of Senators Wicker and Blumenthal for sponsoring this important piece of legislation, and for advocating this bill for the past three years. Their continuing support is critical to the success of our efforts.” Roderick also thanked Senator John Thune (R-SD), Chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, for “championing the Parity Act in the Senate since the beginning of our effort.”
The bill has widespread, bipartisan support. In the 114th Congress, there were nearly 130 cosponsors in the House and the Senate, and the legislation has passed the House twice in the past year. On January 24, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said that the bill would “help Amateur Radio operators, and take several steps to promote public safety.”
ARRL looks forward to working with the bipartisan leadership of the Senate and the Commerce Committee to help move the Wicker-Blumenthal legislation through the Senate and to the President’s desk.
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More information on the Amateur Radio Parity Act is available at www.arrl.org/amateur-radio-parity-act.
More information on Amateur Radio is available at www.arrl.org/what-is-ham-radio