Proos supports bill to protect ‘ham radio’ operators

LANSING—The Michigan Senate is poised to approve legislation supported by Sen. John Proos that would place federal regulations concerning amateur radio operators into state law, ensuring local governments reasonably accommodate the activity.

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

“There are more than 21,000 ham radio operators in Michigan. In addition to engaging in a hobby to talk to other operators around the world, they participate in critical emergency preparedness activities,” said Proos, R-St. Joseph. “Since amateur radio is a noncommercial hobby, most operate out of homes. Despite the valuable service amateur radio provides, operators are increasingly facing problems with local zoning ordinances. This bill will bring clarity to the issue and prevent over-regulation that can lead to costly battles in court.”

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) oversees amateur radio services. Senate Bill 493 would codify FCC Order PRB-1 into Michigan law, requiring that local government regulations must reasonably accommodate amateur radio operations and represent the minimum practicable regulation to achieve the government’s legitimate purpose.

Under the bill, operators with antenna structures more than 200 feet tall or located near or at a public airport must notify the Federal Aviation Administration and register with the FCC.

“This is about protecting private property rights and public safety,” Proos said. “Amateur radio is part of state and federal emergency preparedness plans in large part due to the service they can provide if traditional communications are down. This reform costs nothing, but could help save court costs and possibly even save lives.”

Similar legislation has been passed in 30 states, including Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Wisconsin.

Proos serves as vice-chair on the Senate Energy and Technology Committee, which unanimously approved SB 493 in September. The bill now awaits passage by the full Senate.


Editor’s Note: Audio comments by Proos are available on the senator’s website at Click on “Audio” under the Media Center tab.