H.R.2160 – New Legislation

Dear ARRL Member:

I am contacting you as part of the ARRL Legislative Action “Grassroots” Program and asking you to get involved by writing to your Congressman — Edward Markey.

One of the biggest challenges that amateurs face is antenna restrictions – those implemented by local governments and those originating from deed restrictions and building development covenants.  As you may know, the FCC’s PRB-1 limited preemption order offers amateurs some relief when facing zoning and building restrictions.  However, PRB-1 does not extend to include covenants, conditions and restrictions (known as CC&Rs).  These deed and property use restrictions strongly and negatively affect the ability of Amateur Radio service licensees to perform valuable emergency and disaster communications.  Finding a method to extend the PRB-1 protections is a key component of the ARRL Legislative Action Program.

Recently Congresswoman Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-TX) introduced House Bill H.R.2160 – the “Amateur Radio Emergency Communications Enhancement Act of 2009”.   If enacted into law, H.R.2160 would instruct the Secretary of Homeland Security to undertake a study and report its findings to Congress within 180 days. The study would spell out uses and capabilities of Amateur Radio communications in emergencies and disaster relief. The study shall:

* Include recommendations for enhancements in the voluntary deployment of Amateur Radio licensees in disaster and emergency communications and disaster relief efforts.
* Include recommendations for improved integration of Amateur Radio operators in planning and in furtherance of the Department of Homeland Security initiatives.
* Identify unreasonable or unnecessary impediments to enhanced Amateur Radio communications — such as the effects of private land use regulations on residential antenna installations — and make recommendations regarding such impediments.
* Include an evaluation of Section 207 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 (Public Law 104-104, 110 Stat 56 [1996]).
* Recommend whether Section 207 should be modified to prevent unreasonable private land use restrictions that impair the ability of amateurs to conduct, or prepare to conduct, emergency communications by means of effective outdoor antennas and support structures at reasonable heights and dimensions for the purpose in residential areas.

While the bill does not automatically extend PRB-1 to include CC&Rs, it takes a first big step in that direction by determining the extent that things such as CC&Rs impede the Amateur Service in performing public and emergency service communications.

H.R.2160 has been assigned to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.  Getting the bill out of committee is the first major hurdle to overcome – and that is where you play an essential role.  Your Congressman is a member of that committee.  We need you to let them hear your voice of support for H.R.2160.

Attached to this email is a draft letter for you to personalize and send to your Congressman/woman.  I am asking that you first personalize the letter (including your name and address).  After that, I ask that you send the letter to Chwat & Co, our representation in Washington.  To facilitate the process, please either email the letter directly to Chwat & Co. at arrl@chwatco.com or fax the letter to their office at 703-684-7594 (Do not send it only to your Congressman by US Mail because it can take weeks before they receive it due to security scanning processes).  Their staff will be hand delivering your letter (along with the letters of others) directly to the various Congressional offices.  If you choose to send your letter directly to your member of Congress, please still email or fax a copy as directed above.  This will allow Chwat’s staff to most effectively represent the ARRL in this process.

H.R.2160 can go a long way towards assisting thousands of amateurs who are restrained unreasonably by CC&Rs.  However, it is going to take a concerted effort by all amateurs for this effort to be successful.  Time can become critical – so please act quickly in contacting your Representative.  Together our voices can be heard and make a difference.  If you have any questions please feel free to contact me, or the ARRL Regulatory Information office at reginfo@arrl.org

Thanks and 73,


Tom Frenaye, K1KI
ARRL New England Division Director
P O Box J
West Suffield CT 06093


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