U.S. Senators Roger Wicker, R-Miss., and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., have introduced bipartisan legislation titled the “Amateur Radio Parity Act” that would direct the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to provide regulatory parity for amateur radio operators.
“This legislation would ensure that our nation’s amateur radio operators can continue to provide critical communications support at no cost to taxpayers. This would be particularly beneficial in Mississippi and other rural states,” Wicker said. “During Hurricane Katrina, Mississippians learned firsthand the value of amateur radio and its ability to provide information that could save lives in times of natural disasters.”
“This measure ensures increased access to and availability of critical resources and communication tools to our integral first-responders. We have seen the effectiveness of these systems and the need to provide these emergency response systems to Americans regardless of where you live is evident,” Blumenthal stated.
Because of private land restrictions, a large segment of amateur radio operators are prohibited from installing functional outdoor antennas at their homes. This bill would call on FCC to apply the reasonable accommodation policy evenly to all types of residential land use regulations and offer amateur radio operators the ability to negotiate with subdivisions that now have restrictions that preclude amateur radio antennas completely. This could be accomplished without taking any jurisdiction away from homeowners associations and would protect neighborhood aesthetics.
In times of emergency, amateur radio operators provide communications network backup when first responder network repeaters and infrastructure are not working. During and immediately after Hurricane Katrina, amateur radio operators restored communications lines with FEMA, the Red Cross, and other disaster relief entities when the primary emergency response network was down.
The House version of the bill is sponsored by Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill. There are currently 84 bipartisan cosponsors, including Mississippi’s Rep. Gregg Harper.