We’ve all heard the buzz of S1685 and HB1301 (The Amateur Radio Parity Act).  It sounds like a good thing on the surface — protecting licensed Amateur Radio operators living in PUDs (Planned Unit Developments) with CC&Rs restricting or banning antennas.  Theoretically, it would enhance our national emergency communications capabilities by ensuring Homeowners Associations reduce or eliminate interfering with ham radio operations.  But Kilo-16 points out some thought provoking potential unintended consequences.  His Liberty Legislative Update could lead to some lively discussion, and if anything, make patriots take pause before jumping on board with something that ‘sounds’ good, especially in this age of big government. An audio version of the Liberty Legislative Update is posted below.  -JJS

Amateur Radio Parity Act of 2015 (H.R. 1301 & S. 1685)

This is KILO-16 with a liberty legislative update. This week’s topic is the Amateur Radio

Parity Act of 2015, better known as HR 1301 in the US House and S 1685 in the US Senate.

Liberty-loving amateur radio operators around the nation, your freedoms are on the

chopping block! Sadly, the assault is being led by none other than the American Radio Relay

League (ARRL). In a well-intentioned, but grossly misguided effort to help amateur operators

increase their operating footprint in neighborhoods governed by CC&R’s and stringent HOA’s,

the ARRL is currently pushing parallel legislation in both houses of Congress which would

direct the FCC to amend 47 CFR Part 97 to apply the three-part “Federal preemption test” of

PRB-1 to private covenants, deed restrictions, and homeowner regulations. For the

unfamiliar, PRB-1 was an FCC order issued in 1985 which directed local governments to make

“reasonable accommodations” for amateur operations when establishing local zoning

ordinances, with the guiding directive to allow restrictions for reasons of height, safety, and

“aesthetic concerns.” The legislation currently sponsored by the ARRL is named the Amateur

Radio Parity Act of 2015, and numbered as H.R. 1301 in the House and S. 1685 in the Senate.

The ARRL has recently made concerted public relations and lobbying efforts to move

this dangerous legislation through the halls of Congress, touting it as the answer to amateur

operators who are restricted in their ability to erect outdoor antenna systems due to

conditions established by many private property deed restrictions. While many of you may be

thinking, “Well it’s about time!” I challenge you to think again. For freedom-loving patriots,

the words “Federal preemption” should strike a very sensitive nerve next to your liberty bone.

According to Webster’s Dictionary, the word “preemption” means “a doctrine in which

Federal law supersedes State law when the Federal law is in conflict with State law.”

Hopefully, if the matter at hand was unclear before, it comes into sharp focus at this point.

The real issue at stake with H.R. 1301 and S. 1685 is not an issue of whether amateur radio

operators can erect antenna systems in deed-restricted neighborhoods, but rather the issue of

whether it is proper and Constitutional to allow the Federal government to overrule private

contracts, deed restrictions, and local ordinances in the name of “preemption.” Not only is

the Amateur Radio Parity Act badly written legislation, but it is also simply un-Constitutional,

and therefore must be actively opposed by freedom-loving patriots.

On Page 83 of the October 2015 edition of QST magazine, the article titled “Amateur

Radio Parity Act Would Not Void ‘Private Contracts’” bears the subtitle “Private land-use

regulations must give way when they conflict with Federal telecommunications policy, ARRL

General Counsel explains.” I hope by now your liberty-loving skin is crawling. In this article,

ARRL General Counsel Chris Imlay, W3KD, makes several key points worth addressing. First,

Chris argues that private contracts are not violated by the ARPA because land-use regulations

are not really covenants:

“The contractual characteristic of private land-use regulation has not existed in the United States for a

great many years,” Imlay pointed out…”A contract requires a meeting of the minds between the two

parties,” Imlay said….rather that contracts, Imlay explained, private land-use restrictions are limitations

placed on the use of land long before a buyer ever shows up…with no opportunity to negotiate, “you don’t

have a contractual relationship at all, what you have is preclusion.”

While Chris’ argument may seem to hold weight on the surface, he ignores the myriad

other contractual relationships that we enter each week which afford us no opportunity to

negotiate. When was the last time you got to negotiate with your credit card company over

your card interest rate before you signed the contract which obligated you to pay high interest

rates and late fees should you fail to meet your appointed payment date? Does your lack of

agreement with the late fees nullify your requirement to pay them? In fact, Chris is sadly

mistaken in his statement “A contract requires the meeting of the minds between the two

parties.” Whether the minds meet or not, once an agreement is signed between two parties,

that is what establishes the contract. The contract is not contingent on “meeting of the

minds”, but rather mutual agreement to enter into the contract, which is an entirely different

matter. Again, harken back to the credit card contract…you may not like the terms of the

contract, but if you honestly objected to the terms strongly enough, you simply would not

acquire that particular credit card, but rather seek out one with more amenable terms. Liking

the terms of the agreement isn’t what cements a contract, but rather both parties signing the

common agreement as an indication of willingness to abide by that agreement.

Later in the QST article, Chris argues that the “legal underpinning of the ARPA is wellestablished”

and that “private land-use regulations that conflict with expressed federal

telecommunications policy are subject to pre-emption, which would restore private property

rights to the landowner.” How dangerous these few words are! First, Chris Imlay has spoken

at length about the ARPA in a variety of forums, but I have yet to hear him expound on the

“well-established legal underpinnings” of this legislation. Much more important, and

dangerous, is Chris’ contention that non-legislated Federal “policy” should overrule

established contract law which can be traced back to English common law in place around the

time of the Magna Carta. If you want “well-established legal underpinnings” for a law, I’d

place my money on 800+ years of legal precedence over a 30-year old Federal policy

conceived in Washington by a non-elected government bureaucrat.

Of note, while Imlay argues that the ARPA would “restore private property rights”, it

actually does no such thing. True private property rights for the property owner would allow

the owner to do whatever he desires with his property. It would eliminate zoning restrictions,

allow the owner to operate any kind of business he desires on the property, and do with the

property whatever he pleases; however, the ARPA does not allow that, or anything even close.

In fact, the ARPA obligates a restrictive HOA to change absolutely nothing about prohibitions

it may have on outdoor antenna systems, much less actually afford a property owner

sovereignty over his own property. Chris’ contention that ARPA affords property owners their

“rights” is a pure, unadulterated lie.

As a relevant side-note, it’s important to get a little background on Chris Imlay, the

lawyer. Chris came to my attention several years ago when he published an official League

policy stating ARRL members would not be allowed to carry privately-owned concealed

weapons while participating as a League club at organized club events, even if the weapon was

legally owned and carried under the jurisdiction in which the member was carrying. For those

of us out West who do any number of public service events each year in the back country, this

was a significant policy, as many of us carry personal sidearms to protect against any number

of threats to our person while serving at an event. Basically, Chris was lead champion in

denying ARRL members their Constitutional right to keep and bear arms. His push to

overrule the 10th Amendment through legislated “pre-emption” should come as absolutely no

surprise to anyone.

Despite the PR campaign by the ARRL, the Amateur Radio Parity Act of 2015 is nothing

but a thinly veiled legislative effort to transfer power away from private individuals and

organizations, and move that power to the central Federal government. The fact is, the

Federal government grows more and more intrusive in our lives on a daily basis. Local

communities, counties, and States are constantly being overrun by Federal policies and

regulations. EPA restrictions, Department of Transportation requirements, Department of

Education standards…the list is virtually endless. Rather than delegating responsibility and

management of daily life to the lowest possible level, the Federal government constantly

moves to seize and usurp authority from lower levels. Fundamentally, ARPA is yet one more

example of this type of usurpation, and it needs to be stopped.

In closing, I encourage every patriot to consider the dangers of the Amateur Radio

Parity Act. Both H.R. 1301 and S. 1685 are currently in subcommittee in their respective

houses. Visit the House and Senate websites to track the progress of this dangerous

legislation. If one of your elected representatives serves on the subcommittee reviewing these

bills, contact them without delay and voice your concerns. If your representatives are not

assigned to the respective subcommittees, contact them and voice your strong opposition to

these bills should, God-forbid, they reach the broader chamber floor. The ARRL has put a

significant amount of time and money into lobbying these bills. We have much ground to

cover to ensure the counterpoint is heard. Contact your elected representatives and help

make the case for liberty today!


Below is the audio version of this report, and may also be accessed directly at:

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