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PBFAA Pushes for Changes to Automatic Contract Renewal Bill

Posted By Bob Ogle, Friday, July 13, 2012
Updated: Monday, July 16, 2012

The Pennsylvania Burglar and Fire Alarm Association (PBFAA) has stepped up its efforts against a bill in the state Senate that would potentially void automatic renewals of alarm monitoring contracts, as well as creating other issues with notification requirements, timing, retroactivity, and enforcement.

The bill, SB991, recently passed the state Senate Appropriations Committee. A letter was sent to all Pennsylvania state senators on June 21, signed by PBFAA Executive Director Dale Eller, asking for language creating an exemption for fire and burglar alarm companies, similar to similar legislation in California.

"While this is a good endeavor to protect consumers in Pennsylvania, SB991 has unintended consequences for fire and burglar alarm customers,” the letter states. "The value of a life safety alarm system is that it is an ongoing, continuous uninterrupted service that our industry provides to safeguard Pennsylvania residents and businesses. Enacting regulations that render the automatic renewal of fire and burglar alarm contracts unenforceable under any conditions threatens the health, safety and welfare of the very people and businesses we seek to protect. "

Fortunately, Eller says, the bill may encounter some slowed momentum, since summer is traditionally a slack time for legislators as they turn their attention to re-election. Also, since Pennsylvania is in the second year of a two-year legislative term, the bill will die at the end of the session if it does not pass both the state House and Senate and get signed into law. But that doesn’t mean it can’t resurface again in the next session.

"Our hope is that there’s not enough momentum or time left in this session for anything to occur,” he said. "But clearly we need to stay aware of it, because when the next session starts, it could be reintroduced.” Even then, he said, the process would have to start from the beginning, and any headway made by the bill in this session would be moot.

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