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ARRL President, Directors and Officers Educate and Advocate on Capitol Hill

03/25/2015

ARRL President Kay Craigie, N3KN, made a new Amateur Radio friend on Capitol Hill this month as she headed a contingent of League Directors, officers, and staff advocating for H.R. 1301 — The Amateur Radio Parity Act of 2015. Not only that, but Rep Daniel Benishek, KB8TOW (R-MI), signed on as an H.R. 1301 cosponsor. Others new to the fold include Reps Eliot Engel (D-NY), David Joyce (R-OH), and Jackie Walorski (R-IN), raising the total number of cosponsors to 26. Benishek is one of two known radio amateurs in Congress. The other is Rep Greg Walden, W7EQI (R-OR), who heads the subcommittee that will consider H.R. 1301.

“I visited 10 Congressional offices, including that of Dr Daniel Benishek, who represents Michigan’s 1st District. Dr Benishek is also an ARRL member,” President Craigie said this week. “He was very friendly, and I appreciated his meeting with me to talk about the bill.” Benishek’s legislative aide sat in on the conversation, she said. “We were already in the area for the Executive Committee meeting on March 21.”

If approved and signed by President Obama, the measure would direct the FCC to extend its rules relating to reasonable accommodation of Amateur Service communications to private land use restrictions — also known collectively as “deed covenants, conditions, and restrictions” or CC&Rs.

President Craigie said she got a cordial reception at all of the Capitol Hill offices she visited, and there was good dialog with the staff people she met. “I don’t mind probing questions,” she added. “They show that the staff person is actually thinking about the points I’m making.”

Rep Walden, also an ARRL member, and two of his subcommittee staffers met with ARRL Hudson Division Director Mike Lisenco, N2YBB; West Gulf Division Director Dr David Woolweaver, K5RAV; ARRL CEO David Sumner, K1ZZ, and President Craigie to talk about strategy for H.R. 1301 going forward.

“At the end of the meeting, I asked Rep Walden how the ARRL could help him to help us,” President Craigie recounted. “He replied that it’s essential to continue educating people on the Hill — members of Congress, Senators, and their staffs — about the value and importance of Amateur Radio.”

President Craigie said ARRL officials can’t do the job by themselves, though. “ARRL members throughout the country must take advantage of every opportunity to convince our lawmakers that Amateur Radio is beneficial and that this bill is key to maintaining Amateur Radio as a resource,” she said. She encouraged ARRL members to write or call their US House members, urging them to sign on as H.R. 1301 cosponsors.

A regularly updated H.R. 1301 page on the ARRL website includes key “talking points” and other information for Amateur Radio delegations or individuals to use when contacting US House members for their support.

President Craigie pointed out that one opportunity to contact their representatives in person would be during the Easter recess, March 27 through April 12, when lawmakers or their aides will be available at their district offices. At this time, League members are being encouraged to contact only US House members. Similar legislation has not yet been introduced in the US Senate.

“Members of Congress may hold open town hall meetings or be available to meet with constituents in the home district,” President Craigie pointed out. “The information we need to prepare ourselves is posted on the ARRL web site. It’s not rocket science. It’s just telling someone briefly in plain English how Amateur Radio makes our communities better places to live and then asking for co-sponsorship of H.R. 1301.”

Others in the ARRL team visiting Capitol Hill were First Vice President Rick Roderick, K5UR, Second Vice President Jim Fenstermaker, K9JF; Pacific Division Director Bob Vallio, W6RGG, and ARRL General Counsel Chris Imlay, W3KD.

 



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