Governor signs Jones bill to protect ‘ham radio’ operators

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LANSING—Legislation sponsored by Sen. Rick Jones to ensure local governments reasonably accommodate amateur radio operators was signed by the governor on Thursday.

Amateur radio, commonly known as “ham radio,” is a two-way, noncommercial, personal connection exchange, and many times it is used in emergency situations.

“Supporting ham radio operators is more than protecting a hobby, it’s about protecting private property rights and public safety,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “Although amateur radio providers participate in critical emergency preparedness activities, they are increasingly facing problems with local zoning ordinances.

“This new law will bring clarity for more than 21,000 ham radio operators in Michigan and prevent over-regulation that can lead to costly legal battles.”

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) oversees amateur radio services.

Senate Bill 493, now Public Act 556 of 2014, codifies FCC Order PRB-1 into Michigan law, requiring that local government regulations must reasonably accommodate amateur radio operations and represent the minimum practicable regulation necessary.

The new law creates standards for the height of amateur radio antenna structures in Michigan to prevent inconsistent restrictions of these structures by local municipalities.

“Amateur radio is part of state and federal emergency preparedness plans, largely because they can provide service when traditional communications are down,” Jones said. “With that in mind, this reform will help save court costs and possibly even help save lives.”

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