Hands-free Legislation, November 19, 2019, Additional Update

Based on information we have recently received, it may be time to contact your State Representatives concerning the MA Distracted Driving Bill. Over the weekend, Ray, KB1LRL and Tom, K1TW posted on both the WMA and EMA websites.

Concerns are being raised across the section’s asking what the impact this bill has on amateur radio in the state. Since the hands-free bills were first filed, Eastern Massachusetts ARRL State Government Liaison, Hank W4RIG, has been closely coordinating with Senator Bruce Tarr, who is the Massachusetts Senate Minority Leader and a radio amateur. Previously the Senator’s office reported to Hank that Amateur Radio operation would not be impacted by earlier versions of the bill.

With the hands-free bill finally clearing committee on the weekend and ready for a vote, I asked Hank to contact the Senators office once again. Hank reports he has been in touch with the staff at Senator Tarr’s office and with these most recent changes they can no longer confirm there will be no impact on amateur radio mobile operation.

Our understanding is the problem results from the substitution in the final text from committee of “mobile electronic device” in place of “mobile telephone”. In the original wording, the definition of a mobile telephone in Massachusetts General Law specifically excludes amateur radios and citizen band radios. The definition in Massachusetts General Law of “mobile electronic device” does not contain any exclusion for amateur radios and citizen band radios.

Senator Tarr’s office said they are trying to correct this.

This may be an appropriate time to contact your Massachusetts Representative and Senator politely asking them to incorporate the same words to exclude amateur radio from the revised bill as was previously contained in the definition of mobile telephone.

Ray Lajoie, KB1LRL SM WMA
Tom Walsh K1TW SM EMA

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