Many areas of policy and legislation affect the Amateur Radio Service. Whether dealing with spectrum defense, BPL. antenna zoning, it is important for the Amateur Radio communition to get the facts about Amateur Radio across to our elected representative - from the White House and Capitol Hill to the state legislatures down to the local court house.
The ARRL national legislative policy is approved by the ARRL Board of Directors. These policies direct ARRL efforts on the broad topics affecting the Amateur Service. To help promote these policies and coodinate activities in each ARRL Division. each ARRL Division Director names a Division Legislative Action Coordinator (DLAC). The DLAC is the first point of contact when the ARRL Washington team requests specific membership action.
Under the DLAC, each state has a Legislative Action Chair (LAC), whose job is to facilitate the flow of information and requests to the Legislative Action Assistants (LAA). The LAA is an individual who has the responsbility to coordinate activites in their local Congressional district in support of the ARRL Board's Legislative Action Agenda.
The ARRL's Washington Team targets key Members of Congress, usually members of the appropriate House or Senate Committee that has the responsibility of considering targeted legislation. However, for a noticeable impact to be made, dozens of Representatives and Senators need to weigh in. This can only happen if amateurs take a few minutes of their time to alert their senators and representatives about the impending issues.
Contacting the White House
Any communication with the White House should say right up front what you oppose or support, where it was referenced, and most specifically why. For instance: there are several broadband technologies, and BPL is the only one that causes severe interference to radio communication.
Telephone calls can be made to either: (202) 456-1111 (comments) or (202) 456-1414 (switchboard). Be ready to give a very short, concise statement. The operators are very good -- they will tally the calls.
Letters and Emails to Congress
The easiest and most common way to communicate with Congress is through letters and E-mails. Many people question whether there is a difference between a letter and an e-mail to a Member of Congress. The answer is no and yes. Both are treated equally as they come into the office. Postal mail is opened, scanned to identify an issue and then forwarded to the appropriate legislative staff. E-mails move through in a similar manner. The difference comes in timeliness. Due to security procedures, an e-mail may arrive at its intended recipient a bit quicker.
At times draft letters for your Senators and member of the House of Representatives are made available by the ARRL.. Because of the changing nature of Washington, the ARRL recommends that when its members are asked to target letters to specific Senators or Congressmen that they be sent directly to our Washington representative - Chwat & Co - to be hand delivered.
One thought to remember about letters and e-mails. Members of Congress are impressed by large volumes of mail from their constituents on a particular issue. They are decidedly not impressed by 300 copies of the identical letter, however. If you decide to use the draft letters, please personalize them in some way, but keep them on point. Speak directly to your request and don't get sidetracked. Because of the large volume of mail received every day by our representatives, the mantra "Short, Sweet, Simple, and To The Point" goes a long way in making your case.
It you choose to contact your members of Congress by telephone, make sure you have your information ready to pass along. Again the large number of phone calls they receivce daily necessitates that they be efficient in handling each call quickly, but thoroughly. Know what you want to say before dialing the number... It will help you get your message across more effectively.
One of the best ways to make a meaningful and lasting impact with your Member of Congress is to meet with them personally. Your congressional representatives likely spend at least a few weekends back in the state and district each month. During certain parts of the year, Members of Congress have an extended opportunity to work out of their home (state and district) offices. Unlike "meet and greets" during your family trips to Washington, DC, this is a real opportunity to get some quality face time with your elected officials. A well-orchestrated personal meeting can set the tone for all future interactions of amateurs when they contact the Representative or Senator.
Pay special attention to the Senators and Representatives who serve on key telecom subcommittees of jurisdiction. If you determine that any of these Members of Congress represent you, please make note of it with your friends and urge that they pay special attention to contacting them.