The ARRL Board of Directors has unanimously adopted five legislative objectives for the 115th US Congress. The Board took the action when it met in Connecticut January 20-21. ARRL President Rick Roderick, K5UR, chaired the session.
The first objective is to seek early congressional passage of the Amateur Radio Parity Act of 2017, H.R. 555 and of any Senate companion bill that might be introduced. H.R. 555 cleared the House on January 23. The Board was told that specific instructions to the FCC on implementation of the bill would be included in the report language from Congress.
In addition to the new Parity Act initiative, the ARRL Board agreed that the League would oppose any legislation that would lead to the reallocation of Amateur Radio spectrum or to sharing arrangements that reduce the utility of existing allocations. ARRL also will oppose legislation “that diminishes the rights of federal licensees in favor of unlicensed emitters or encourages the deployment of spectrum-polluting technologies.”
Further, the League will seek recognition of the unique resources, capabilities, and expertise of the Amateur Radio Service in any legislation addressing communication issues related to emergencies, disasters, or national security. Finally, ARRL will support the complementary legislative objectives of other radiocommunication services.
The Board voted to grant the Barry Goldwater, K7UGA, Achievement Award to Amateur Radio Parity Act sponsor U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), in recognition of his outstanding support of Amateur Radio as an elected official. Kinzinger has stepped up to sponsor Amateur Radio Parity Act legislation in the 113th, 114th, and 115th congresses.
“Rep. Kinzinger has often spoken publicly in favor of our legislation and of the benefits of Amateur Radio to the public, and he has been a steadfast advocate for this important and beneficial legislation, leading the effort resulting in unanimous passage of H.R. 1301 in the House last term and the very early introduction of H.R. 555 in the current Congressional term,” the Board resolution said.
Calling Kinzinger “a great friend to Amateur Radio over the past 4 years and a patriotic American,” the Board said his understanding of the value of Amateur Radio to the public interest and the pursuit of scientific and technical knowledge has led him to act in the spirit of the award’s namesake, Sen. Barry Goldwater, K7UGA, whose exemplary support for Amateur Radio in Washington inspired the award.
New England Division Director Tom Frenaye, K1KI, presented the report of the Entry Level Licensing Committee and entertained questions. It has been more than 10 years since the ARRL asked the FCC to consider a proposal for restructuring licensing requirements and creating a more appropriate entry-level license. After a comprehensive study, the committee is still discussing possible recommendations to bring before the Board for consideration.
At its January meeting, the Board received the Committee’s interim report and endorsed its recommendation to work toward improvements in the current license question pools and seek aggregate demographic data from the FCC’s Amateur Radio database. The Committee also recommended continuing the effort to examine public attitudes toward Amateur Radio, with a goal of better understanding how to reach out and attract new licensees.
The Board asked the Entry Level Licensing Committee to work with ARRL Headquarters staff to gather ARRL member input regarding potential changes to the entry level license, develop several different proposals for change to the entry level license, and work toward bringing a final recommendation before the Board at its July meeting.
In his report to the Board, ARRL General Counsel Chris Imlay, W3KD, noted that that there are few threats to Amateur Radio spectrum at this time. He also pointed up the importance of a comprehensive review of the Amateur Auxiliary — the Official Observer (OO) Program.
ARRL Second Vice President Brian Mileshosky provided an oral report to the Board regarding an OO program study now under way. Requested by the ARRL Executive Committee last spring, the study is focused on identifying recommendations to improve the mechanics of the OO program as well as the program’s interface with today’s FCC. In addition to Mileshosky and Imlay, the core study team includes ARRL Headquarters staffers Steve Ewald, WV1X; Dan Henderson, N1ND, and Dave Patton, NN1N.
Additional resources from within the ARRL Field Organization as well as the FCC will be consulted as needed during the course of the study, Mileshosky said, adding that his team’s deliverable will be a set of recommendations to the ARRL Board and management for their consideration. Mileshosky also told the Board that, despite rumors, no changes to the OO program are planned in the interim.
“The study is a parallel effort that should pose no impact to the current activities that our nation’s Official Observer community has under way,” Mileshosky said. “We greatly appreciate the value that our OOs provide to the Amateur Radio community and are excited to help strengthen their role in the future.”