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ESA and U.S. Congress: A Steady Agenda for 2016

Posted By John Chwat, Director, Government Relations, Monday, May 9, 2016
Updated: Thursday, May 12, 2016

As the national presidential and federal election cycles speed up toward November 8th, ESA is networking and coordinating its activities with congress at a fast pace. Both the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Congress will be considering much legislation and policy in the next two months leading up to a recess for the national conventions starting July 15th to cover the July 18-21 GOP convention in Cleveland, OH and the following week, July 25-28 for the Democrats in Philadelphia, PA. Congress will then take off the month of August (for summer recess and campaigning) and return September 8th after Labor Day. A second intensive period of legislation and policy will take place in September followed by recess again in October to campaign and return for what is described as a “lame duck” session from mid-November until the end of the year. Usually the new congresspersons coming to Washington, D.C. in January, 2017 will “mix” with the old congress, some of whom will retire. Much activity takes place at the end of a congressional session with mischief and amendments galore.

Despite the on-again-off-again congressional schedule, staff is always present and actions are always underway. In most areas followed by ESA, the association coordinates with industry partners in their priority areas to monitor, report, and initiate actions accordingly. An example of a group regularly networking with ESA is the Alarm Industry Communications Committee (AICC) which impacts all telecommunications policies involving the Federal Communications Commission and other federal agencies. Meetings are held every quarter and ESA works with the AICC general counsel, lobbyist, and leadership on dozens of bills pending in 2016 as well as federal regulations, legal issues, and national topics important to each ESA member in their business operations. Another key ally is the Security Industry Association (SIA) who regularly works with ESA on federal issues such as school security federal grants to K-12 public schools and a host of bills and policies that are important to the industry. Other groups are the National Electrical Manufacturers Association(NEMA), the National Association of Home Builders, Associated General Contractors and Associated Builders & Contractors construction trades, Door and Hardware Institute, and many others in the business community that have any interest in ESA related matters.

One of the broader congressional topics that is being followed relates to cybersecurity, hacking and the vulnerabilities of security equipment as well as issues of privacy. For example, in late April, the House Homeland Security Committee passed legislation (HR4743) being monitored by the industry (including such groups as ASIS and SIA) called the “National Cybersecurity Preparedness Consortium Act” that seeks to reach out to private industry to meet the threats of terrorism and cybersecurity risks by having the Department of Homeland Security create a consortium of groups, including businesses to train and receive support for cybersecurity actions. The issue of cybersecurity is high on the agenda for AICC this year. There are many groups in Washington, D.C. that ESA is reaching out to and involving in the area of internet and future congressional interest in technology. In the coming months, this will include groups such as the Internet Education Foundation, Congressional Internet of Things Caucus (groups of congressional members and staffs meeting together on common issues) and the Congressional Net (Internet) Caucus. 2016 plans to be a very active year for congress despite what the media is saying and things will speed up considerably as the new administration and next congress get ready for policies this winter leading into 2017!

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