Of course when BFAAM learned of the pending legislation, they stepped in and were invited to a workshop on the topic. Here’s what Belisle said about that: “We were invited to this Workshop the following Monday, September 24, 2012 to review this matter. It was obvious that the participants were well-acquainted with each other that the Security Industry was a ‘late’ invite to the table. Representatives from the Senator’s office, Michigan Municipalities, LARA (governing / license department), Comcast and AT&T were all present for this one-hour review of the bills as proposed. BFAAM expressed the security industry’s concerns during this brief meeting. Following the Workshop, BFAAM contacted the Senator’s office and worked relentlessly for the next three days to try and accommodate AT&T’s specific needs in conjunction with the security industry’s concerns over Consumer Protection. On the third day, a modified bill was sent to the Senate Floor, voted on and passed with very little change from the original bill submitted by AT&T.”
John Chwat, ESA’s Director of Government Relations, also shared with me that it could be possible that AT&T, operating in Michigan, would extend its IP-enabled security systems crusade to surrounding states, like Indiana and Ohio, where they don’t have licensing. And this of course is not the first example of this kind of activity, he said. Verizon in Pennsylvania is seeking to deregulate itself from state legislation. “I’m convinced that AT&T and Verizon and others will come back and expand their efforts,” he said.
Here’s what you can do as a broad brushstroke: Get to know your state legislators and offer to sit down with them and just have a friendly discussion about the industry. There’s a chance that once they get to know you and what you represent that they will remember you if legislation comes about that may affect the industry. Offer to help them in their efforts that may be similar to those of the industry in some senses—there are many causes but things I can think of are no texting and driving; Mothers Against Drunk Drivers; etc. Help your employees know who your state representatives are. All you have to do is Google: “Who Represents Me in the Senate and the House of Representatives” and you will get the information you need. Pass this along to your employees. Maybe they want to start some outreach, and there are some superb letter-writers among us. Become active in your community so you are remembered when it really counts.
Michigan is just one example of how we have to stay vigilant and everyone in the industry can get involved by helping the organization. In Illinois, Executive Director Kevin Lehan and the members of the association rode herd on municipalities and their efforts to monitor fire alarms—and they have so far been successful. Arizona recently had alarm industry licensing passed as well.
It’s all up to you. It’s your industry and your livelihood—and it all starts with a phone call or a letter or some type of outreach.