Friday, February 24, 2012

Ham Radio Study Tucked into Payroll Tax Bill

Using classic legislative sleight-of-hand, sponsors of the ARRL-backed bills to mandate a study of "impediments to enhanced Amateur Radio Service communications" -- such as homeowner association antenna restrictions -- tucked the language away deep in the bill Congress passed in mid-February to retain current payroll tax cuts through the end of 2012. 

President Obama signs payroll tax cut extension bill, which
includes mandate that FCC study "impediments" to amateur
radio operation, such as CC&Rs, and make recommendations
on how to eliminate them. (White House photo)

The ARRL Letter reports that section 6414 of the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 directs the FCC, in consultation with the Department of Homeland Security, to study the "uses and capabilities" of amateur radio in emergencies and disaster relief and to identify "impediments to enhanced (amateur radio) communications, such as the effects of unreasonable or unnecessary private land use restrictions on residential antenna installations." 

The law, which was signed by President Obama on February 22, also requires the FCC to make recommendations "regarding the removal of such impediments" and to report back to Congress with its findings within six months.

A ham from Arizona is taking a different tack in attempting to get the FCC to pre-empt homeowner association antenna restrictions. Len Umina, W7CCE, has filed a petition claiming that the FCC's position that its limited pre-emption of state and local antenna laws does not extend to private land-use regulations violates the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. His petition has been designated as PRM12WT. As we went to press, it had not yet been posted for public comment.