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State Legislation – Year in Review and What’s Ahead

Posted By Chris Heaton, vice president of membership and chapter relations, Wednesday, January 13, 2016

As you know, ESA monitors all legislation that could be important to the electronic security and life safety industry and in 2015, that effort included a thorough review of over 1,000 bills that were tagged with terms or concepts that touched on this industry. 

During 2015 ESA monitored emerging trends and in some cases, these trends will continue to develop.  Here is an overview of what we saw in 2015 and what we can expect for 2016:

Carbon Monoxide – There were 30 bills that were filed in state legislatures during 2015 and six of those bills passed, with 21 still pending.  This trend is driven in part by examples of tragedies with carbon monoxide poisonings.  We expect this trend to continue in 2016.

Licensing and Regulation – Arkansas SB 164 eliminated the Arkansas board that oversaw alarm regulations in that state and transferred all administrative control to the Arkansas State Police (ASP), which will promulgate the rules for alarm licensing.  All administrative appeals will also go through the ASP.  Another state regulatory body, the Kentucky Department of Housing, Buildings and Construction (DHBC) promulgated proposed regulations that were met with swift and widespread concern from all segments of the low-voltage industry.  As a result of these proposed regulations, the Kentucky Chapter of ESA was reconstituted and it successfully worked with the DHBC, along with other low-voltage groups and companies, to create proposed legislation for 2016 that will better address the regulatory needs for Kentucky.  Regulatory issues will continue to be highly volatile and closely watched.

Video Surveillance – At least 11 bills relating to video surveillance were also presented in various legislatures, with the most common purpose being the protection of elderly, developmentally disabled or children in group settings.  Again, examples of abuses and crimes committed by persons who are entrusted with the care of those who cannot care for themselves drives this type of legislation and we expect to continue seeing legislation like Illinois HB 2462, which permits guardians to install video or audio surveillance systems designed to protect residents of community or nursing homes.

Wireless and “Plug and Play” Installations – Several bills that would provide wireless exemptions to permitting and some licensing requirements were indicators of licensing statutes and regulations that do not reflect the evolving technology with new “plug and play” systems.  Bills were presented in Washington and Florida to provide for varying exemptions from licensing or permitting requirements for these systems and we expect this will be a continuing legislative and regulatory issue in 2016. 

School Safety – In the wake of tragedies such as Sandy Hook Elementary and other campus shootings, legislation at the state and federal level was filed to propose various solutions.  Most state legislation in 2015 attempted to address the vulnerabilities that schools face with armed security designees.  We expect to see more legislation with varying proposed solutions.

Home Automation – In another case of legislation and regulation playing catch up with technology, we began to see a number of bills attempt to address the licensing implications for the next generation of security coupled with convenience.  Home automation and integrated systems are common place, but many statutes and regulations do not reflect the advanced current trend that combine security systems to convenience services such as thermostats, access control, video and lighting.  In some states, it may take an alarm technician, HVAC technician, locksmith and electrician to complete a home automation installation.  This creates a financial burden for our members and the consumers.  Bills such as New Jersey Assembly Bill 4333, which exempts alarm businesses from locksmith statutes will be more common in 2016. 

Changes for 2016

The monthly ESA State Legislative Report will take on a different look for 2016.  We will present the bills in a different format, but rest assured, the content and information provided is essentially the same.  We will also provide hyperlinks on these reports for higher priority legislation so that you can view detailed information directly from the source website and respond accordingly.

And most important, between monthly reports, ESA will begin to send push notifications to chapters and/or members within states where high priority legislation is introduced, or moves.  This push notification will also include upcoming committee hearings whenever possible, so that grass roots action from the chapter or members in non-chartered chapter states may take action before a bill is heard in committee. 

It is our hope with these changes and enhancements that you will receive more tangible value for your membership and most importantly, be in a better position to respond when proposed legislation, positive or negative, is introduced.

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