Courtney, Kinzinger Announce Amateur Radio Parity Act Passes The House
WASHINGTON, D.C. —Today, Congressman Joe Courtney (CT-02) and Congressman Adam Kinzinger (IL-16) announced that the bipartisan Amateur Radio Parity Act of 2015 (H.R. 1301) passed the House of Representatives last night with broad support. The bill was introduced last year by Kinzinger with Courtney serving as the lead Democratic sponsor. The legislation directs the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to amend regulations that currently hamper the ability for many operators to effectively communicate with one another in certain areas around the country.
“I am excited with the bipartisan support this measure received in the House,” said Courtney. “As their actions during Hurricane Sandy proved, amateur radio operators in Connecticut can be a critical component of disaster response. It is in our communities’ best interest that we give them the capabilities to operate at the highest level, and with the passage of this bill, we’ve taken a strong step in that direction.”
"Today’s vote takes us another step closer to ensuring amateur radio operators throughout the country are able to effectively communicate with one another,” said Kinzinger. “I’ve personally used amateur radio through the Military Auxiliary Radio System (MARS) while flying overseas, and know firsthand the importance of having the lines of communication open and available in this system. In times of emergency, when all other forms of communications have failed, this legislation ensures that Amateur Radio operators will now have the means to utilize this vital and lifesaving function. These operators serve as the last line of defense for the communications of our first responders and it’s important that we support them.”
In 1985, the FCC found there was a ‘strong Federal interest’ in supporting effective amateur radio communications, especially to enhance local communications during natural disasters. However, local zoning ordinances often restrict amateur radio operators from placing antennas on private property. In response to these growing restrictions, H.R. 1301 would require the uniform application of the FCC’s balanced, “reasonable accommodation” policy to all types of land use regulation for amateur radio antennas.
During Hurricane Sandy, amateur radio operators involved with NOAA’s SKYWARN were very active in Connecticut, helping coordinate disaster relief like food deliveries to local shelters, and reporting downed trees and power lines. They also assisted in establishing communications networks, and providing backup systems during the disaster recovery.