Pending Legislation Update

Subject: Pending Legislation Update

Hello all stations:

Some of you have written me expressing concerns about the pending legislation concerning use of telecommunication devices that may include the use of Amateur Radio devices. Please be advised that Headquarters DOES NOT lobby on our behalf in the states, just the federal government. We, collectively, need to take action.

Our SGL, K3HI, has been following this issue closely and summarizes it for you. He also provides recommended approaches you can use to influence your state representative.

K3HI message follows:


A bill that could restrict amateur radio mobile operations has been
passed by the Massachusetts House of Representatives. It is hard to
say whether the proposed law would cause practical difficulties for
amateur mobile operations and emergency preparedness exercises. Just
to be safe, however, we should take action now to minimize the
potential harm.

The full text of the bill, as adopted by the House, is available at

Q: What would H-4475 do if it becomes law?

Among the goals of H-4475 are the following: (a) prohibit the use of
cell phones by any driver under the age of 18, (b) require hands-free
cell phones for all other drivers, and (c) ban the use of a broad range
of handheld communications devices while operating a motor vehicle (for
such activites as text- or instant-messaging, email, web-surfing, etc.)

Q: What does the proposed law say about amateur radio?

Nothing. This could be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on your
perspective. On the one hand, it doesn’t say, “Hams can’t do X.” On
the other hand, it doesn’t say, “This law does not apply to hams.”

Q: So what should we do about this?

If you would like to oppose or seek amendment of H-4475, your best bet
is to contact your state senator on Beacon Hill.

If the prospects for the bill remain good, it will be in our best
interest to try to get the bill amended, rather than simply trying to
defeat it.

Q: What makes for an effective communication with a senator or Beacon
Hill staffer on this topic?

1. Speak to the right person. Call YOUR senator, not someone else’s.
Unless you’re calling to donate to the campaign chest, elected
officials don’t care much about you if you’re from outside their
district. See below on how to find out who is your senator–if you
don’t know.

2. Have a clear message. Informed citizens are more inclined to vote,
so if you call your senator and sound like an informed citizen, they’ll
expect you’re a likely voter. If you want to sound informed, a good
place to start is knowing the number of the bill you’re calling about.
It’s H-4475. (The H is for the House, where the bill originated.)

3. Have something to say about the substance of the bill. Have an
argument for why your position is more justified than the opinion of
someone who calls and urges the opposite. Make our side look smart.

4. Avoid the following: shouting, swearing, threatening, use of
Q-signals, quotes from FCC rules, etc. Be reasonable. Go ahead and
mention the emergency & public service contributions of amateur radio,
but don’t exaggerate. It will undermine your credibility.

Here’s a template for a call or email to a senator regarding H-4475:

“Hello, my name is Elmer Q. Ham, and I am a constituent of the
Senator’s in [your town here.] I am calling/writing to ask that the
Senator oppose passage of H-4475 unless it is amended to protect
amateur radio. In particular, I am concerned that the law might be
interpreted so as to make mobile amateur radio operations illegal. An
exemption for FCC-licensed amateurs in the law would allow us to
continue training for & providing emergency & public service
communications to our communities. [Here’s where you can tell a story
or two of hams in your town providing communications for the marathon
or bike-a-thon or the Memorial Day Parade or SKYWARN, etc.] …And we
couldn’t do that if amateur radio operators weren’t allowed to
communicate while on the road.”

Close by repeating your request. Then thank the senator (or more
likely, staff member) for his/her time. Offer contact information
about yourself; it will help them tell if you really are a constituent.
And who knows–maybe they’ll call back to ask for more details.

If you really want to make a concrete suggestion, you might “propose
that the passage in Chapter 90, Section 13 which exempts Citizen Band
radio also include an exemption for amateur radio operators.”

Q: I don’t know who my state senator is. How do I find out?

The best way to get the name of your state senator is to call your city
or town election board. In some parts of the state, senators cover
large areas. There, knowing the town you live in is enough. If you
live in a more densely populated part of the Commonwealth, your city or
town may have multiple senators. Unless you know what ward & precinct
you’re in, the State Senate’s web site will not be able to help you.
But your city/town election board will definitely know.

Town hall may also have the senator’s phone number or email address; if
they don’t, check out the Massachusetts legislature’s web site.

Senate districts & senator names are listed at:

Senate phone numbers & email addresses are available at:

Make that call/send that email ASAP!

End of K3HI message=====================

73, de W1MPN

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