This week, four more Congressmen — John Boozman (R-AR-3), Bob Filner (D-CA-51), Dennis Moore (D-KS-3) and David Wu (D-OR-1) — pledged their support for HR 2160, The Amateur Radio Emergency Communications Enhancement Act of 2009 This brings the total number of cosponsors to 18.

Introduced by Representative Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-TX-18) in April, if passed, HR 2160 would “promote and encourage the valuable public service, disaster relief, and emergency communications provided on a volunteer basis by licensees of the Federal Communications Commission in the Amateur Radio Service, by undertaking a study of the uses of Amateur Radio for emergency and disaster relief communications, by identifying unnecessary or unreasonable impediments to the deployment of Amateur Radio emergency and disaster relief communications, and by making recommendations for relief of such unreasonable restrictions so as to expand the uses of Amateur Radio communications in Homeland Security planning and response.” The bill has been referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.

Some Reps Do Care
Some In Congress Do Care About Ham Radio

If enacted into law, HR 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.

The Secretary of Homeland Security shall utilize the expertise of the ARRL and shall seek information from private and public sectors for the study.

“HR 2160 presents the Amateur Radio Service with a unique opportunity — but also carries with it the important responsibility of making your voice heard,” said ARRL Regulatory Information Manager Dan Henderson, N1ND. “HR 2160 stands as the first step in trying to address the long standing problem of extending the protections afforded Amateur Radio operators under PRB-1 to deed restrictions and covenants. To be clear, passing HR 2160 is not going to achieve that goal right away. But it will help lay the ground work by assessing the impact such restrictions have on our ability to train for and respond to disasters and other emergencies.”

HR 2160 is also sponsored by W. Todd Akin (R-MO-2), Michael Arcuri (D-NY-24), Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD-6), Madeleine Bordallo (D-Guam), Bart Gordon (D-TN-6), Brett Guthrie (R-KY-2), Michael Honda (D-CA-15), Mary Jo Kilroy (D-OH-15), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA-16), Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO-9), Thaddeus McCotter (R-MI-11), Charlie Melancon (D-LA-3), Bennie Thompson (D-MS-2) and Peter Welch (D-VT).

Check the ARRL Web site for information on how to encourage your Congressional representative to sponsor HR 2160.


The ARRL Letter Vol. 28, No. 28 July 17, 2009