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ARRL Volunteers Obtain Ham Exemption to Pennsylvania Handsfree Law


Member-volunteers of ARRL  The National Association for Amateur Radio® in Pennsylvania have successfully protected the legal right to use amateur radio while operating mobile within the state. A handsfree distracted driving bill had worked its way through the legislature over the past several years, and ARRL Atlantic Division Director Bob Famiglio, K3RF, successfully advocated for an exemption for licensed radio amateurs. “The bill survived until just before the latest vote, which stripped out our exemption but left in exemptions for commercial drivers, including truck drivers, bus drivers, and public transportation [drivers],” he wrote in a message to ARRL members in Pennsylvania.

In April, the exemption was stripped from the bill, sending Pennsylvania hams into a state of worry. ARRL members in the state rallied, contacting their state legislators to explain the benefit that licensed operators provide to the state. The bill also was going to remove the ability for first responders, such as volunteer firefighters, to use radios in their personally owned vehicles. “Hundreds of emails then went out to legislators and such and back to me. We also helped our volunteer emergency responders who were in the same boat as us with radio use from their personal cars. Many members are also emergency responders as well, and they picked up on this too,” said Famiglio.

This week, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives voted in favor of accepting the bill with the exemption. The senate passed it last summer. The bill is now on its way to Governor Josh Shapiro’s desk, where he is expected to sign it. Mobile use of amateur radio will continue in Pennsylvania, thanks to ARRL advocacy and government relations carried out by member-volunteers. 



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