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State Legislatures Set the Scene for 2014 by Planning Bills that Will Impact Your Business

Posted By Administration, Friday, December 6, 2013

By John Chwat

Electronic Security Association (ESA) members and industry supporters know the situation all too well: When state legislatures convene early next year, there is always the possibility that some legislation, policy or action will impact their business operations.

More than 147,860 bills have been introduced in the 50 state legislatures in 2013, with only 21,500 being enacted into law. Since there are more than 7,382 state legislators, these are incredible statistics that clearly show the enormous reach that thousands of bills, whether introduced or enacted, have on citizens. It also indicates that influencing such a large number of elected officials is not easy.

ESA surveys all state legislatures for key bills that directly impact our membership, reporting on these bills in a monthly State Legislative Report available on the association website. The association also interacts with industry and other allied groups relating to state bills that effect the way security firms conduct business with the general public.

It seems the work is never done. Some state legislatures are in session until the fall, such as Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin (a full schedule is available on page 15). In fact, legislators often use "prefiled bills” in which legislation is developed and introduced even before a state legislature officially starts its business for the year, usually giving a "heads-up” to legislators and lobbyists on their impact.

This past year has seen some very interesting and critical state activities that impact ESA and its members. Numerous state bills have been introduced by telephone companies that seek to change or propose licensing revisions for the electronic industry. Several of these efforts are well known, such as Florida, Michigan and Virginia. AT&T was active in passing a bill in Delaware (S.B. 79) exempting from any regulation any person, owner, employee or manager who does not perform”… functions at the end user’s premises … if their duties are limited to selling electronic security equipment or services at a retail store location, online or by telephone.” It is anticipated that similar bills might be introduced next year.

There also was another "new” series of bills relating to "mercury thermostats,” or "smart thermostats.” For example, no fewer than five bills in Massachusetts and three in New York set requirements for retail and wholesale sellers of thermostats that sense and control room temperatures through communication with heating, ventilation or AC equipment.

Another trend to watch for next year is inclusion of more security and industry devices and equipment in the growing "e-waste” movement. Originally focused on "box store” consumer electronics, some legislators have sought to expand the list of equipment subject to environmental regulation.

ESA has worked closely this year with Chartered Chapters, individuals and industry supporters on a host of state bills that impact business operations of our members. They covered subjects such as fire sprinklers and suppression systems in residences, licensing and regulation requirements, tax credits, tax increases and sales tax impacts, automatic contract renewal, video monitoring and surveillance issues, electronic monitoring, biometrics, background checks, school security support for acquiring security technology systems, CCTV in nursing homes, false alarms, locksmith licensing … the list goes on.

It is imperative for ESA and the industry to be vigilant when state legislatures are in session. No one is safe.

Tags:  federal legislation  government relations  state legislation 

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