Legislature(2001 - 2002)

04/03/2001 08:08 AM CRA

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
SB  78-MUNICIPAL REGULATION OF RADIO ANTENNAS                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR MEYER announced  that the only order  of business before                                                               
the committee  would be CS FOR  SENATE BILL NO. 78(CRA),  "An Act                                                               
relating to municipal regulation of radio antennas."                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Number 0060                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
DARRELL   THOMAS,  Staff   to   Senator   Taylor,  Alaska   State                                                               
Legislature, informed  the committee that Dan  Squires helped put                                                               
this legislation together and thus he deferred to Mr. Squires.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Number 0161                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
DAN SQUIRES, amateur radio operator,  informed the committee that                                                               
this  bill is  a combination  of federal  administrative law  and                                                               
case  law.   In 1985  the  federal government  said that  amateur                                                               
radio, because  of its public  service aspect, should  be exempt.                                                               
Therefore, the  federal government  created a  limited preemption                                                               
for amateur  radio.  The  Federal Communication  Commission (FCC)                                                               
said  that local  governments could  regulate [so  long as]  they                                                               
accommodated  amateur radio.   Mr.  Squires  noted the  confusion                                                               
local  governments have  had with  this federal  provision, which                                                               
becomes  to a  problem  every five  years or  so  when the  local                                                               
governments rewrite  their zoning and planning  laws.  Therefore,                                                               
the  request  is  for  the  legislature  to  place  this  federal                                                               
preemption in  state statute so that  it is closer to  the people                                                               
and  municipalities.     In  other   states  once   this  federal                                                               
preemption has  been put in  place, many of the  problems amateur                                                               
radio  operators have  with municipalities  are  eliminated.   He                                                               
informed the committee that there  are ten other states that have                                                               
adopted the federal preemption.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Number 0384                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR.  SQUIRES remarked  that part  of  Alaska's heritage  involves                                                               
amateur  radio.   For  example, in  the  1964 earthquake  amateur                                                               
radio was the only communication  out of the state.  Furthermore,                                                               
amateur  radio operators  helped keep  Governor Egan  informed of                                                               
what  was  happening  in  Northern  Alaska.    Mr.  Squires  also                                                               
remarked   on    the   fragility   of    the   telecommunications                                                               
infrastructure.   For instance, during the  Oklahoma City bombing                                                               
cellular phones and  all communications became useless.   He also                                                               
mentioned that  in Juneau all cellular  phone use is lost  if one                                                               
particular line  is lost.      Mr. Squires reiterated  the public                                                               
service  aspect  of  amateur  radios,  which  saves  lives.    In                                                               
conclusion,  Mr.   Squires  informed  the  committee   that  this                                                               
legislation is sponsored by the American Radio Relay League.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Number 0580                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KERTTULA  thanked Mr. Squires  for his work.   She                                                               
pointed  out  that  this  is  basically the  City  &  Borough  of                                                               
Juneau's practice.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
MR. SQUIRES said  that this law is more conservative  than any of                                                               
the current ordinances  in Alaska.  This legislation  serves as a                                                               
guide for the  ordinance and says that [a  municipality] can't go                                                               
under it.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Number 0661                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
LARRY KENT  PETTY, Section Manager, American  Radio Relay League,                                                               
informed  the  committee that  this  bill  was requested  because                                                               
there are  technical requirements that  have to met in  order for                                                               
effective  amateur  radio  communication   to  occur.    Specific                                                               
heights [of radio  antennas] are necessary for  amateur radios to                                                               
communicate  on  the  frequencies  that are  used  for  statewide                                                               
emergency communications, which are practiced on a daily basis.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE MURKOWSKI referred to  subsection (b) that in part                                                               
says,  "A municipality  may not  restrict the  number of  support                                                               
structures  for  an  amateur  radio   antenna."    She  asked  if                                                               
subsection (b) meant that there may  be the need for more support                                                               
structures in areas with seismic issues.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MR.  PETTY  answered, "I  don't  believe  that's necessarily  the                                                               
case."   He related his belief  that the bill addresses  the fact                                                               
that a number of amateur radio  operators have a number of towers                                                               
and  support structures  to support  their various  communication                                                               
antennas.   With regard  to seismic issues,  Mr. Petty  said that                                                               
this bill doesn't  attempt to state that  amateur radio operators                                                               
aren't  required  to  meet  uniform   building  codes  or  safety                                                               
requirements.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Number 0913                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE HALCRO asked if an  amateur radio operator seeking                                                               
to erect an  antenna has to go through an  application process or                                                               
a conditional use permit process with the zoning board.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MR.  PETTY  replied  that  such   would  be  based  on  municipal                                                               
requirements; [the antenna] would have  to be built in accordance                                                               
with  local  requirements.   Mr.  Petty  noted that  the  antenna                                                               
heights are being limited to what is stated in the bill.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  HALCRO  inquired  as  to  whether  amateur  radio                                                               
operators wishing to erect antennas  on their property are having                                                               
problems in the Municipality of Anchorage.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MR. PETTY  replied no and explained  that over the last  20 years                                                               
the  [amateur radio  community] has  had  to put  forth quite  an                                                               
effort to deal  with ordinance changes that  were being proposed.                                                               
Typically, when an ordinance is  changed all antennas are grouped                                                               
into a  large mass, including  amateur antennas.   Therefore, the                                                               
amateur  radio community  has to  put  forth quite  an effort  to                                                               
point out the FCC preemption.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE HALCRO  asked if Mr.  Petty and the  amateur radio                                                               
community were involved with the  local discussion regarding cell                                                               
sites and the antennas erected by wireless companies.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Number 1084                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
JIM WILEY,  Chairman, Alaska Volunteer Examiner  Group, testified                                                               
via  teleconference.    He explained  that  this  group  examines                                                               
individuals who want to get  a license and they determine whether                                                               
the individual can do so.   Mr. Wiley informed the committee that                                                               
amateur radio  operators will occasionally erect  multiple towers                                                               
on their property,  simply because of the  variety of frequencies                                                               
and modes that amateur radio operators  are allowed to use.  With                                                               
regard  to  commercial  antenna  structures,  rarely  do  amateur                                                               
antenna  supports support  commercial structures.   Occasionally,                                                               
the opposite occurs as an amateur  radio antenna may find its way                                                               
onto  a commercial  structure.   Mr.  Wiley said,  "As a  general                                                               
rule, commercial  antennas such as  cell phones and that  sort of                                                               
thing are  not mounted  on amateur structures."   He  pointed out                                                               
that the Anchorage ordinance specifically  states that one of the                                                               
things  that allows  amateur  antennas to  be  exempt from  other                                                               
regulations in  the City of  Anchorage is  that there will  be no                                                               
commercial  antennas mounted  on amateur  structures, unless  the                                                               
amateur  structure  goes  through  the  same  permitting  process                                                               
required for an equivalent size commercial structure.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MR. WILEY  echoed earlier testimony that  amateur radio operators                                                               
spend  a considerable  amount of  time and  money in  training to                                                               
provide  emergency communications.    Therefore,  the purpose  of                                                               
this bill is to ensure access to an effective antenna.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Number 1330                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
GARY PARKER, amateur  radio operator, noted his  support of this.                                                               
He  informed  the  committee  that  he  is  a  former  Washington                                                               
resident.   The  community in  Washington  that he  lived in  was                                                               
putting  in a  new  cell tower,  which was  located  near a  high                                                               
school.    Being  located  near  the  high  school  created  much                                                               
emotion.   In the end the  city passed an ordinance  that said no                                                               
antenna   structure  could   be  over   30  feet   tall,  without                                                               
differentiating between  whether the  antenna was  for commercial                                                               
or  amateur radio.   That  created problems  because the  amateur                                                               
radio operators  provided a lot  of emergency  communications for                                                               
the local fire  department as well as  for the city.   Such a law                                                               
as the one proposed here avoids  the multiple hours that would be                                                               
spent in trying to get the  local ordinance changed to exempt the                                                               
amateur radio antennas per the federal statutes.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE HALCRO asked if the  Alaska Municipal League (AML)                                                               
has taken a position on this.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Number 1445                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR ROBIN TAYLOR, Alaska State  Legislature, testified as the                                                               
sponsor of SB 78.  Although  AML hasn't taken a position on this,                                                               
he was not aware of any opposition to this.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KERTTULA  informed the committee that  she checked                                                               
the Federal  Aviation Administration  (FAA) regulations  and this                                                               
bill is  more restrictive than  the FAA regulations.   Therefore,                                                               
she felt that the federal law was preemptive.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Number 1520                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  HALCRO  moved  to  report  CSSB  78(CRA)  out  of                                                               
committee  with individual  recommendations and  the accompanying                                                               
ZERO fiscal  note.   There being no  objection, CSSB  78(CRA) was                                                               
reported from  the House Community and  Regional Affairs Standing                                                               
Committee.                                                                                                                      

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