Shawn O’Donnell, K3HI, MA State Government Liaison writes:
QST Massachusetts amateur radio operators:
There is a bill making its way through Beacon Hill that would restrict the use of cellular telephones while driving. You can read the text of the bill, House 3679 (H-3679), on the Massachusetts government website:
While the bill does not explicitly prohibit the use of amateur radios while driving, its definition of “cellular telephone” is rather vague. Hams could easily get tangled in this broadly-cast net. It is in our interest to ask the legislature to include an explicit exemption in the law to permit amateur radio operators to use their equipment while driving.
This bill appears to be on the fast track. After sitting around for over a year, it is suddenly being rushed through the legislature. We need to act quickly. It is still a few steps from becoming law, but when a bill has been given the green light, it can move rapidly. Hence the urgency.
If you don’t know who your representative and senator are, go to http://www.mass.gov/legis/
and search by city/town or by ward/precinct. Or call your local city/town hall for help.
When you call your rep, ask that H. 3679 be amended to explicitly state that the new anti-cellular laws are not meant to apply to Federally-licensed amateur radio operators. Also mention to your representative and/or senator that, if these anti-cellular bills fail due to opposition from the industry and/or cell phone users, you would still appreciate any help they could offer to insure that the amateur service is not painted with the same broad brush that’s being applied to cellular telephone users.
Feel free to mention amateur radio’s public service aspect (as spelled out in the Federal regulations that authorize the service,) but don’t get carried away. Do mention that training is essential to the public service we provide, and that casual operation and training exercises help prepare us for emergencies.
As always, remember to be polite with the people you speak with on Beacon Hill. Be calm and make sure they record your opposition to the bill as-is, and the nature of your request for an amendment. The main number for the State House is 617 722 2000. You can find a list of direct telephone numbers for legislators at http://www.mass.gov/legis/memmenuh.htm.
Any questions or comments? Contact your ARRL Section Manager or the League’s State Government Liaison, K3HI.
Shawn O’Donnell, K3HI
ARRL Massachusetts State Government Liaison
508 561 4045 (before 10PM)