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Government Advocacy’s Successful Game Plan Relies on Strong Defense and Offense

Posted By Bob Ogle, Tuesday, July 8, 2014

By John Chwat
ESA Director of Government Relations

ESA has undertaken many activities at federal and state levels over the years – often behind the scenes – to help its members, Chartered Chapters and industry partners. However, success in dealing with the government and the legislature can be measured in many ways.

For example, achieving success does not necessarily come from getting bills passed into law. Success can often be measured by how well the industry prevents bad bills from becoming laws, or defeats efforts that would harm alarm and monitoring businesses.

Two recent instances serve as examples of preventing bad legislation from moving forward. In Hawaii, ESA worked with member companies and trade associations to prevent legislation that would have been detrimental to the industry. And in Georgia, ESA worked closely with that state’s Chartered Chapter in a successful fight against unfair competition.

Successfully opposing bad legislation requires vigilant monitoring and reporting at the state level. There are a number of ways in which proposed legislation that is harmful to the industry can move through the political process without opposition. It’s important to understand a bill, its status, and various ways in which it can be opposed.

ESA proved this point several years ago after being warned about a bill in the Virginia legislature that would tax customers of monitoring companies in order to pay for a "Line of Duty” benefit for state employees. ESA alerted its Chartered Chapter, ESA of Virginia (ESA-VA), and worked with other members of the industry to help defeat the bill.

Successful opposition also requires the ability to organize arguments and create networks that are necessary to overcome support for bad laws. ESA assists state chapters in networking with the industry in efforts that are often instrumental in defeating harmful bills. There are numerous examples over the years, including ESA’s testimony on behalf of the Pennsylvania Burglar and Fire Alarm Association (PBFAA) at a legislative hearing for a licensing bill; and working with Chartered Chapters in Ohio, Arizona and Vermont on their licensing efforts.

There also has been a great deal of success in other areas. ESA has vigorously represented the life safety and alarm security industry, often by recommending legislative and regulatory strategies at the national level to the Alarm Industry Communications Committee (AICC).

ESA has also worked with industry groups on many state and federal issues – most recently with the Security Industry Association (SIA) in efforts to promote school security and other bills pending in Congress and at the state levels.

ESA is constantly expanding its network of groups to deal with adverse legislation, reaching out to custom electronic design companies, the consumer electronics industry, satellite dish owners and manufacturers, and others. ESA has sponsored a number of summit meetings in Dallas, including a gathering of fence, door and locksmith organizations that focused on licensing. Most recently, ESA hosted a state legislative summit of corporations and associations focused on industry transition related to broadband and POTS.

It is important that elected officials, legislators, staff members and other government leaders are aware of ESA, its members, and the interests of their business operations.

Most recently, we have worked with a number of federal agencies, including the Department of Labor for approval of the apprenticeship program; the Department of Homeland Security for ESA representation on an industry panel, the Department of Defense in enabling military personnel who want to enter the industry; and the Department of Justice seeking support for access to federal background checks for ESA members.

Government relations advocacy is about defeating and passing legislation and regulations that play a very important part in the business success of ESA members. Whether this is accomplished by representing the industry annually in Congress during Day on Capitol Hill, by watching and reporting what goes on the Washington, D.C. and the state capitols around the country every day, or through other initiatives, it requires a great deal of effort on everyone’s part.

ESA’s continued vigilance and support play an important role in preventing unwanted and unnecessary government interference – as well as promoting actions that help protect the interests of members, families, customers, businesses and communities.

John Chwat can be contacted at, or by phone at (703) 684-7703.

Tags:  advocacy  Government Relations 

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