NBFAA Legislative Director John Chwat Gives a Legislative Heads-Up

On Monday, the National Burglar & Fire Alarm Association (NBFAA) announced that it is forming a "Coalition to Secure America." The coalition, which invites industry leaders and dealers to be a part of it, seeks to create support behind HR 3632, better known as the "Secure America's Homes and Businesses Act." HR 3632 is a bold bill that proposes to offer tax deductions for security system spending at both commercial installations and residences.

The bill, which was entered into the House of Representatives by Rep. Steven LaTourette (R-Ohio), would provide a deduction of up to $5,000 for the installation of residential security systems, or up to $50,000 for the installation of a security system at commercial establishments.

The Coalition, which is expected to largely be comprised of representatives from the security products manufacturing community, is being created to establish what the NBFAA is calling grassroots support of this legislation.

To get a sense of where the NBFAA's legislative concerns are, SecurityInfoWatch.com recently caught up with NBFAA Director of Government Relations, John Chwat, whose D.C.-based legislative firm is actively lobbying for the bill on behalf of the NBFAA.

SIW: John, where does the Secure America's Homes and Businesses Act stand today?

Chwat: This is a House bill, and currently it's pending in the House Ways and Means committee; this is the committee which does the tax writing. Right now, we are generating support from within the industry and working with legislators and sponsors to keep this bill supported.

SIW: How does the movement of this bill look? Is it going to be able to move forward?

Chwat: It is a difficult time now in Congress. In about four weeks, Congress goes out of session. The other bit of important information is that we are having a Presidential Advisory Commission that will report in next month. This commission is reviewing tax codes and will report in with recommendations.

SIW: What's been the support from the industry?

Chwat: So far it has been very positive due to great interest in security after the London bombings. In terms of crime prevention, there's a lot of support for surveillance. The government is very interested in these systems, for dealers it would help them install more of these systems. The government also gets a value because more security is being put in [by the private sector].

SIW: So what's the top concern?

Chwat: The only concern is how much does it cost taxpayers. On Sept. 3, the NBFAA sent in comments. That tied in with the Presidential Advisory Panel on Tax Reform, which was working in September. We're also working to secure introduction of HR 3632 into the Senate.

SIW: What else is happening on a legislative front that will affect the security industry?

Chwat: The other top issue right now is regarding life-safety. There are a host of bills on fire sprinkler systems ... a number of suppression-related bills. What we're advocating is that detection is just as important. What we're advocating is that fire detection plus suppression equals life safety. We're pursuing draft bills that support detection and suppression. The most popular arena [for these bills] would be colleges and universities.

SIW: What are you hearing in terms of other bills that are going to affect our industry?

Chwat: For the government's fiscal year 2006, which started on Oct. 1, there are literally hundreds of millions of dollars to be included in the federal budget for security equipment projects. There is a lot of homeland security activity in the states.

SIW: A report in the major news media recently discussed how many Democratic Party representatives and senators are coming out in stronger support of security initiatives as a way of changing their party's image. How is that playing out on the Hill?

Chwat: I've seen some major bills, for example, from Hillary Clinton's office. The Democratic Party has key states that have been targets, such as New York and California. The Democratic Party wants to make security key to elections in 2006 and 2008. Overall, it favors well for the industry and it's good for the consumer.