In less than a month, most state legislatures will start their “speedy” deliberations for the 2015 cycle. If last year was any
indication, there will be hundreds of bills aimed at ESA members and the industry, impacting bottom line business operations and revenue. Forty state legislatures, even though they begin in January, will end their sessions by June and July of next year, providing very little time for slow consideration of bills and policies being proposed. For example, the following states end in March, after only three months of action: Wyoming, West Virginia, Utah, Idaho, New Mexico, Kentucky and South Dakota. Following their lead, eight states end in April, 13 states in May, 10 states in June and three states in July. If your one of the “lucky” ones that have state legislatures almost year round (California, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey and Wisconsin) you can take your time to organize and influence the outcome.
The time state legislatures meet is critical to supporting your business and chapter. ESA is networking with industry partners and like-minded supporting trade and professional associations in their 2015 policy priorities. The keys to “Are You Ready” are awareness and action—two key factors that ESA members need to add to their strategic plans for next year.
Are you aware of legislation that is being planned, or introduced in your state legislature? If you are a member of a chapter, they most probably monitor and report on bills that impact the industry and provide status reports as to where they are in the process. If there is no chapter in your state, reference the ESA State Legislative Report which is prepared monthly, summarized and placed on the ESA website for members, listing bills impacting your business in your state. Other methods of awareness include reading publications or emails that relate to bills being considered, or joining a network of others in the industry within your state or local area. Networking with fire marshals (who are very supportive of ESA objectives nationwide), law enforcement, and others will help to keep you informed. Be aware of opportunities that come up in the state legislative session that could prove useful for marketing and outreach purposes. School security bills and policies (especially funding allocations within the state) are an excellent example of the types of legislation that you should follow for sales and marketing opportunities. In 2015, your state budget could provide line items for school security technology allocations as they have for many states such as Indiana and Connecticut, in which state monies can be used by local school districts for these purposes.
After awareness, you need to set some time aside for you, your employees, family, friends and colleagues to “take action” to impact state issues that are either good or bad for your business. The ESA Government Relations Committee surveyed all of the 2014 state bills that we were monitoring, reporting on and influencing. Last year, of the hundreds of key bills followed, there were over 87 subject categories covered. In 2015, this will likely increase. Issues impacting state licensing, automatic contract renewal, use of surveillance devices for public safety, taxes, telecommunications, and POTS are just a few examples. The list is quite large and you need to take action by writing letters to legislators, visiting state legislators in their offices and districts and meeting with their staffs.
Become an active participant at legislative hearings in the Capitol and express your views on bills that will impact your business operations. Get involved, stay alert and do not let anyone else tell you how best to run your business!