All Virginia Hams:
Since this SB74 was brought to the attention of Virginia Hams, there has been many emails and calls to legislative offices concerning individual contacts are being made by Dr Joe Palsa, Section Manager K3WRY and State government Liaison and Mac McNeer K4YEF.
For Assembly contact and bill information: http://virginiageneralassembly.gov/
The following is an explanation letter that explains what effects SB74 will have on the Amateur radio community. Personal contacts and visits have been made to several elected offices to make sure they understand the damage that will done to the effectiveness of amateur radio on a normal daily basis as well as any emergency services performed by hams.
Virginia Senate bill will limit Amateur Radio in vehicles
Virginia state Senate bill SB74 would limit amateur radio use in vehicles while totally exempting CB radio from those rules. Designed to limit the use of mobile phones while driving, it seems to limit the use of “hand-held devices” used by hams to situations that have been approved by the state or a local government. “Hand-held devices” are not clearly defined; does a microphone with buttons on it count?
As Allan Johnson, WA3J, put it, “You can’t expect the sheriff of a small rural community to know the exemptions in detail. He sees a device in the hands of a ham and he gives the ham a $150 to $250 ticket. Going to court to show an exemption is costly in time and dollars.” We are asking for an exemption equivalent to the CB exemption. When the sheriff sees a microphone in hand, she or he will know this is exempt.
Given the number of runs, walks, bicycle tours and other events supported by hams government-permission imposes quite a burden. The event organizers or supporting hams will have to go to their government representative and get approval by a process that does not exist in most localities. One result is that many hams will not bother to install transceivers in their vehicles. That means less experience in mobile communications, not a good thing for emergency response or the support of community events.
With many state governments starting their legislative sessions this spring. Hams need to review the bills before they go to committee. As hams around Virginia learn of SB74, they are contacting their state legislators. Legislators listen to those who vote.
The bill can be found at http://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?ses=181&typ=bil&val=sb74
Bruce MacAlister, W4BRU
ARRL Virginia Section
Section Manager: Dr Joseph G Palsa, K3WRY