On July 13, the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce gave its stamp of approval to a compromise version of H.R. 1301, the Amateur Radio Parity Act.
Community Associations Institute opposed H.R. 1301 as introduced, which preempted association restrictions on HAM radio and drastically limited association architectural control of amateur radio antennas. With approval of the committee, the amended version of H.R. 1301 will be referred to the U.S. House of Representatives for a vote – possibly in September.
CAI’s Federal Legislative Action Committee was able to secure key changes to H.R. 1301. These amendments include:
- HAM radio operators are required to obtain the prior consent of the association to install an outdoor antenna
- HAM radio operators are prohibited from placing antennas on common property, and
- Associations may establish written rules concerning outdoor HAM radio antennas
Prior to the committee vote, U.S. Representative Greg Walden, a Republican representing Oregon’s 6th Congressional District and the chief author of H.R. 1301, said that compromise was necessary to “…to ensure amateurs [HAM radio operators] are protected, but not at the expense of Americans living in deed-restricted communities.”
U.S. Representative Anna Eshoo, a Democrat representing California’s 18thCongressional District, was a key ally and leader for CAI in the negotiations. At the committee vote, Rep. Eshoo said, “When we originally considered it [H.R. 1301] in the subcommittee I was worried that it would violate the rights of homeowners associations…”
Rep. Eshoo was a key player in these negotiations and her office worked diligently to protect the interests of community associations and association residents. CAI is also appreciative of the good-faith efforts of Rep. Walden’s office to reach this compromise.
The compromise legislation will permit community associations to establish and enforce reasonable written rules concerning the installation of HAM radio antennas. While these rules must be designed and enforced so as to permit installation of an effective antenna, associations may require that HAM antennas meet height, location, and aesthetic standards.
Rep. Walden acknowledged that HAMs who choose to live in a community association should respect the association’s rules. Rep. Walden said, “This amendment also respects…the rights of Americans, including amateur radio operators, who’ve chosen to live in deed restricted communities. Millions of Americans live in communities like these and choose to set their own aesthetic and other rules. This is a knowing choice and must be respected.”
Several steps remain if the compromise version of H.R. 1301 is to become law. The legislation must be approved by the U.S. House of Representatives as a whole and forwarded to the U.S. Senate. The Senate must also vote to approve the legislation if H.R. 1301 is to be presented to President Obama for his signature.
With national elections in full swing, Congress has a limited schedule prior to adjourning sine die in December. If the amended version of H.R. 1301 does not become law in 2016, the bill must restart the legislative process when the 115thCongress convenes in January of 2017.
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Dawn Bauman, CAE
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