Behind the headlines on the recent results of the 2014 national elections from the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate are changes that will impact ESA members and the industry going forward into 2015 and beyond. Major changes in the leadership and composition of next year’s Congressional delegation will directly impact life safety and electronic security companies, employers and their workers, families and colleagues.
The change in Republican control of the U.S. Senate will bring new focus on policy, legislation and directions. Starting this winter, the new Senate Republican leadership will be selecting new committee chairs for the next Congress, which will meet from 2015 to the end of 2016. After the chairs are selected, the leadership will approach their new GOP members (now at 52 with some races yet to be decided) to select subcommittee chairs and membership. This process should be completed by February 1, 2015.
There will be some committees that ESA is already very focused on for work next year. For example, the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee has jurisdiction over all communications areas, especially those involving the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). ESA is an active member of the Alarm Industry Communication Committee (AICC), which reviews all FCC and state and national communications issues impacting the entire industry. The Senate Science, Commerce and Transportation Committee will have a new chairman, possibly Sen. John Thune (R-SD) who will likely differ on issues not only from the president, but also the FCC. His committee colleagues will also have new authority in the Senate on these matters including Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS) and Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO). Final leadership selections in this and other committees will not be made until January or February 2015.
Another major change in philosophy, positions and legislation will occur in the Senate with the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee falling to Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) and new leadership input by his colleagues on the committee such as Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH).
One of the most important issues facing ESA in the year to come relates to changes taking place in new technologies, especially in areas relating to broadband expansion, wireless communications, POTS and copper replacements, and the impact of the telecommunication industry on market share and federal and state regulation. Continuing from this year, there will be major efforts made by the Congress to propose changes to an almost 20-year-old telecommunication law that will include many issues impacting electronic security technologies. Passed in 1996, this law will be open for changes in 2015 by U.S. House Energy & Commerce Committee as well as the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee. It will address key issues for monitoring and alarm companies such as radio spectrum utilization, broadband deployment, “net neutrality” and other communications topics.
Another area of ESA interest and support together with the Security Industry Association (SIA) involves heightened school security technology acquisitions for local elementary and secondary schools around the country. Traditionally, Republicans have supported school policies to be decided at the local and state levels, rather than at the federal level. However, a grant support program to enhance school security equipment and selection of security devices will be a top priority for ESA and SIA in 2015. The Republican-controlled appropriations committees will be reviewing these requests as will other committees in the new Congress.
There will be major changes not only in the Senate but also in the House which will have one of the largest GOP majorities since the late 1920s. The new numbers are 244 GOP members, 181 Democrats with 10 seats still in contention. These new members review tax reform, small business issues that impact ESA, attacks on administration regulations and investigations that relate to agency problems. It will be a new environment in which ESA and the industry recognizes the potentials and the pitfalls of working within divided government.
Changes are coming in 2015, and ESA remains vigilant as to its impact on our members and their businesses.