H-4477: MA Hams Reach Out To State Legislators

MA StatehouseIn responding to H-4477, numerous amateurs from both Eastern and Western Massachusetts sections are reaching out to their respective house and state legislators.

Framingham Amateur Radio Association president Gordy Bello, K1GB reported communication with his state senator, Susan Fargo, and house representative Koutoujian. He received a return phone call from Fargo on Wednesday.

“Our discussion was obviously about the cell phone bill. She understands our position about the exemption and realizes its importance for public service and, more importantly, safety and survival.”

Bello clarified for Fargo the differences between Citizens Band and Amateur Radio. “She was somewhat aware of the role we play in emergencies and natural disasters. All in all it was a very upbeat conversation.”

Ironically, the existing “driver distraction law” already codified in MA law exempts Citizens Band — but not Amateur Radio operators. Bello suggests that, if H-4477 dies in the Senate, amateurs should consider pursuing some sort of amendment to add Amateur Radio to the existing law.

Mark Rubin, WB1ARZ, director of the Worcester Emergency Communications Team wholeheartedly agrees.

For its February 11, 2008 meeting, WECT has invited two senators — Ed Augustus and Hariette Chandler — along with ten house representatives, including Joe Wagner, sponsor of the original legislative amendment H-4477, and Frank Hynes who amended it for Amateur Radio.

“The invitations were sent via email [January 31] … no responses have been as yet received, though receipt of some emails were acknowledged,” Rubin writes. “[WECT] would be able to provide any representatives who attend a view of Amateur Radio and what we do. During our 15 minute coffee and refreshment break, the opportunity would be there for attending hams to speak with the representatives about Amateur Radio.”

WB1ARZ hopes that “at least a few” of the invitees accept their invitation. He encourages area hams to check the website “as the responses hopefully come in.”

For additional information on the current and proposed laws, contact ARRL MA State Government Liaison Shawn O’Donnell, K3HI. And for information on identifying your state senator or representative, go to http://www.mass.gov/legis/ and search by city/town or by ward/precinct.

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