GovTrack. us is reporting that Senate Bill S.1685 The Amateur Radio Parity Act of 2015 has been «reported» out of Committee. GovTrack has bumped the «chances of passage» to 30% from 1%. They say only 1 in 4 bills are reported out of the Committee they are sent to upon submission to the Senate. See www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/114/s1685.
It is with great pride and satisfaction that my lobbying with Senator Wicker’s office staff led to their conviction that the Senator should lead on this matter. As Chair of the Senate Sub-Committee having FCC oversight, he recognized that this bill reflected the interests of the some 5,500 licensed amateurs in Mississippi. That reflects a relatively large number of constituent interest for a special-issue bill request, according to the Senator’s staff.
The ARRL entered the picture at this point, after I arranged a meeting of President Kay Craigie and her team at the Senator’s D.C. Office. They provided the detailed draft legislation and the Connecticut Senator Blumenthal’s willingness to co-sponsor. The League is located in Newington, CT so this was a natural bipartisan partnership. The parallel House bill, H.R. 1601, which I successfully lobbied Congressman Greg Harper (R-MS) to co-sponsor earlier, now has well over 100 co-sponsors. The League has been very, very busy getting individual hams to write their member of Congress to sign-on as Co-Sponsors.
As one of those licensed amateurs residing in an HOA-governed neighborhood, I am most aware of the disparate views on ham radio by the uneducated public. This bill only prevents HOA Board from categorically banning any and all «aerials» from the neighborhood. It does NOT categorically allow towers… unless the HOA Board agrees that a tower is a «reasonable accommodation». But that is the case without this legislation! The HOA lobbying group has been spreading these unthruths as a scare tactic (see previous post) as a means of purveying their complete control over what they deem to be maintenance of property values. I look at 50 foot masts with antennas affixed upon them at the top, located in my neighborhood, which are fine with my HOA Board. Huh? How is that possible with CC&Rs that say «aerials» cannot be visible from the street? Oh, those masts are attached to sailboats moored in our neighborhood marina! That makes them acceptable… to the HOA Board.
Upon passage of the Senate and House bills and the President’s signature, the Amateur Radio Parity Act of 2015 would make this process a subject of mandated «reasonable» negotiation just as the PRB-1 does today for public zoning permits. Reasonable here means no outright bans on any and all «aerials». Personally, I don’t want a big honking tower next door… or even in my own yard. But I can see water towers with cellular antennas crowning their top from my house’s windows. No outrage here. I can see masts galore with marine band radio antennas adorning their tops. Tacky yard art? You bet. But, still, I don’t want to see ham radio towers in my or any neighbors' yards. But a birdhouse or flag pole with a disguised vertical? A dipole blended into the tree line? A small round magnetic loop visibly blended into the landscape? Now, that’s reasonable! But without the Amateur Radio Parity Act becoming law, HOA Boards can just wave their collective hands and say non, nein, no, never. Having to sit down and discuss the matter with a factual purpose? That’s reasonable!