ARRL

ARRL General Bulletin ARLB031 (2009)

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ARLB031 Senate Introduces Companion Bill to HR 2160

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ARRL Bulletin 31  ARLB031
From ARRL Headquarters  
Newington CT  October 7, 2009
To all radio amateurs 

SB QST ARL ARLB031
ARLB031 Senate Introduces Companion Bill to HR 2160
 
October 6, Senator Joe Lieberman (D-CT), along with Senator Susan
Collins (R-ME), introduced Senate Bill 1755, The Amateur Radio
Emergency Communications Enhancement Act of 2009. Similar to HR 2160
-- also called The Amateur Radio Emergency Communications
Enhancement Act of 2009 -- that was introduced this past April by
Representative Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-TX-18), the bill, if passed,
would direct the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to undertake
a study on emergency communications. S 1755 points out that "There
is a strong Federal interest in the effective performance of Amateur
Radio Service stations, and that performance must be given -- (A)
support at all levels of government; and (B) protection against
unreasonable regulation and impediments to the provision of the
valuable communications provided by such stations."

"We are delighted to have the sponsorship of both the Chairman and
the Ranking Member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs
Committee, and especially to have the support of Senator Lieberman
from the ARRL's home state," said ARRL Chief Executive Officer David
Sumner, K1ZZ. "The bill could not have a better pedigree." Lieberman
is the Chairman of the committee, while Collins is the Ranking
Member.

Like HR 2160, S 1755 calls on DHS to undertake a study on the uses
and capabilities of Amateur Radio Service communications in
emergencies and disaster relief and then to submit a report to
Congress no more than 180 days after the bill becomes law. The study
shall:

Include a review of the importance of Amateur Radio emergency
communications in furtherance of homeland security missions relating
to disasters, severe weather and other threats to lives and property
in the United States, as well as recommendations for enhancements in
the voluntary deployment of Amateur Radio licensees in disaster and
emergency communications and disaster relief efforts and improved
integration of Amateur Radio operators in planning and furtherance
of the Department of Homeland Security initiatives.  Identify
impediments to enhanced Amateur Radio Service communications, such
as the effects of unreasonable or unnecessary private land use
regulations on residential antenna installations; and make
recommendations regarding such impediments for consideration by
other federal departments, agencies and Congress.

In conducting the study, S 1755 directs the Secretary of Homeland
Security to "utilize the expertise of stakeholder entities and
organizations, including the Amateur Radio, emergency response and
disaster communications communities."

S 1755 makes note of the fact that Section 1 of the Joint Resolution
entitled Joint Resolution to Recognize the Achievements of Radio
Amateurs, and To Establish Support for Such Amateurs as National
Policy -- approved October 22, 1994 (Public Law 103-408) -- included
a finding that stated: "Reasonable accommodation should be made for
the effective operation of Amateur Radio from residences, private
vehicles and public areas, and the regulation at all levels of
government should facilitate and encourage amateur radio operations
as a public benefit." The bill also pointed out that Section 1805(c)
of the Homeland Security Act of 2002 (6 U.S.C. 757(c)) directs the
Regional Emergency Communications Coordinating Working Group of the
Department of Homeland Security to coordinate their activities with
ham and Amateur Radio operators among the 11 other emergency
organizations, such as ambulance services, law enforcement and
others.

ARRL New England Division Director Tom Frenaye, K1KI said that
Amateur Radio operators in the State of Maine have "an outstanding
relationship" with their Congressional representatives -- plus
Governor John Baldacci is KB1NXP!" Both Connecticut and Maine are
part of the League's New England Division

Frenaye said that Maine Section Manager Bill Woodhead, N1KAT,
dropped off a letter at Senator Collins' office in Lewiston two
weeks ago, asking for her support. "After that, we had amateurs in
Maine write the Senator," he said; more than 40 Maine hams wrote
Senator Collins.

The Senate bill points out many positive things that Amateur Radio
operators do, including "provid[ing] on a volunteer basis, a
valuable public sector service to their communities, their States,
and to the Nation, especially in the area of national and
international disaster communications."

It mentions that amateurs provided emergency and disaster relief
communications services during both natural and manmade disasters.
"The Amateur Radio Service has formal agreements for the provision
of volunteer emergency communications activities with the Department
of Homeland Security, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the
National Weather Service, the National Communications System, and
the Association of Public Safety Communications Officials, as well
as with disaster relief agencies, including the American National
Red Cross and the Salvation Army," the bill reads.

Right now, S 1755 has been read twice in the Senate chamber and
referred to that body's Committee on Homeland Security and
Governmental Affairs. HR 2160 -- now with 27 sponsors -- is in the
House Committee on Energy and Commerce.
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