Texas House Passes Major Alarm Industry Bill

The Texas House of Representatives has passed a major bill that would update the state's code on the alarm industry, alarm verification, false alarms, alarm permitting and more.

Texas House Bill 2304 defines duties of alarm companies in terms of customer notification and would require company notify municipalities of new installations. The bill also clearly defines how municipalities can write their permitting laws and enact alarm ordinances.

The law promises to be a major watershed bill in the state of Texas, affecting system designers, dealers, installers, and those in the central station monitoring industry. According to Chip Bird, of Southwest Dispatch Center in Richardson, Texas, and a member of the Texas Burglar and Fire Alarm Association's board of directors, the Texas Senate may move fast on this bill. The Texas legislative session ends at the end of May, so there are roughly two weeks left for activity on the bill.

Read the bill's FULL TEXT below:

-------

By: Driver, et al., H.B. No. 2304

A BILL TO BE ENTITLED

AN ACT relating to the regulation of alarm systems and alarm systems companies; providing penalties.

BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF TEXAS:

SECTION 1. Section 214.194, Local Government Code, is amended to read as follows:

Sec. 214.194. [FEE FOR] MUNICIPAL PERMIT FEE GENERALLY.

(a) If a municipality adopts an ordinance that requires a person to pay an annual fee to obtain a permit from the municipality before the person may use an alarm system in the municipality, the fee shall be used for the general administration of this subchapter, including the provision of responses generally required to implement this subchapter other than specific responses to false alarms.

(b) A municipal permit fee imposed under this section may not exceed the rate of:

(1) $50 a year for a residential location; or

(2) $100 a year for a commercial location.

SECTION 2. The heading to Section 214.195, Local Government Code, is amended to read as follows:

Sec. 214.195. NONRENEWAL OR REVOCATION OF PERMIT AND TERMINATION OF MUNICIPAL RESPONSE; [AND] DISCRIMINATION PROHIBITED.

SECTION 3. Sections 214.195(a) and (d), Local Government Code, are amended to read as follows:

(a) Except as provided in Subsection (d) [of this section], a municipality may not terminate its law enforcement response to a residential or commercial permit holder because of excess false alarms if the false alarm fees are paid in full.

(d) A municipality may revoke or [set standards for systems to be permitted and may] refuse to renew the permit of an alarm system that has had eight or more false alarms during the preceding 12-month period [permit particular systems which in its discretion have a history of unreliability].

SECTION 4. Subchapter F, Chapter 214, Local Government Code, is amended by adding Section 214.1955 to read as follows:

Sec. 214.1955. MULTIUNIT HOUSING FACILITIES. (a) A municipality may not refuse to issue an alarm system permit for a residential location solely because the residential location is an individual residential unit located in a multiunit housing facility.

(b) In issuing an alarm system permit for an alarm installed in an individual residential unit of a multiunit housing facility, the municipality shall issue the permit to the person occupying the individual residential unit.

(c) A municipality may impose a penalty under Section 214.197 for the signaling of a false alarm on the premises of a multiunit housing facility for a facility other than an individual residential unit only if the permit holder is notified of:

(1) the date of the signaling of the false alarm;

(2) the address of the multiunit housing facility where the signaling of the false alarm occurred; and

(3) the identification of the individual facility, if applicable, located on the multiunit housing facility premises where the signaling of the false alarm occurred.

SECTION 5. Section 214.197, Local Government Code, is amended to read as follows:

Sec. 214.197. PENALTIES FOR FALSE ALARMS [PENALTY LIMITATIONS]. [(a)] A municipality may [not] impose a penalty [or fee] for the signaling of a false alarm by a burglar alarm system if [unless] at least three [five] other false alarms have occurred during the preceding 12-month period. The amount of the penalty for the signaling of a false alarm as described by Section 214.196 may not exceed:

(1) $50, if the location has had more than three but fewer than six other false alarms in the preceding 12-month period;

(2) $75, if the location has had more than five but fewer than eight other false alarms in the preceding 12-month period; or

(3) $100, if the location has had eight or more other false alarms in the preceding 12-month period.

[(b) A penalty or fee imposed for a false alarm must be established by ordinance based on the type and level of emergency response provided. This fee may not exceed $50 in the case of the category of burglar alarms. The penalty or fee for a false alarm may not exceed the actual expenses incurred for the response.]

SECTION 6. Subchapter F, Chapter 214, Local Government Code, is amended by adding Sections 214.198-214.200 to read as follows:

Sec. 214.198. VERIFICATION. A municipality may require an alarm systems monitor to attempt to contact the occupant of the alarm system location twice before the municipality responds to the alarm signal.

Sec. 214.199. EXCEPTION OF MUNICIPALITY FROM ALARM SYSTEM RESPONSE.

(a) The governing body of a municipality may not adopt an ordinance providing that law enforcement personnel of the municipality will not respond to any alarm signal indicated by an alarm system in the municipality unless, before adopting the ordinance, the governing body of the municipality:

(1) makes reasonable efforts to notify permit holders of its intention to adopt the ordinance; and

(2) conducts a public hearing at which persons interested in the response of the municipality to alarm systems are given the opportunity to be heard.

(b) A municipality that adopts an ordinance under this section may not impose or collect any fine, fee, or penalty otherwise authorized by this subchapter.

Sec. 214.200. PRIORITY OR LEVEL OF RESPONSE NOT AFFECTED; LIABILITY OF MUNICIPALITY FOR NONRESPONSE. (a) Nothing in this subchapter:

(1) affects the priority or level of response provided by a municipality to a permitted location; or

(2) waives the governmental immunity provided by law for a municipality.

(b) A municipality that does not respond to an alarm signal is not liable for damages that may occur relating to the cause of the alarm signal.

SECTION 7. Subchapter L, Chapter 1702, Occupations Code, is amended by adding Sections 1702.286, 1702.287, and 1702.288 to read as follows:

Sec. 1702.286. DUTIES OF ALARM SYSTEMS COMPANY. (a) On the installation or activation of an alarm system, an alarm systems company shall distribute to the occupant of the alarm system location information summarizing:

(1) the applicable law relating to false alarms, including the potential for penalties and revocation or suspension of a permit;

(2) how to prevent false alarms; and

(3) how to operate the alarm system.

(b) An alarm systems company shall notify the municipality in which the alarm system is located of an installation or activation of an alarm system not later than the 30th day after the date of the installation or activation. The alarm systems company shall provide to the municipality:

(1) the alarm systems company name;

(2) the alarm systems company license number;

(3) the name of the occupant of the alarm system location;

(4) the address of the alarm system location; and

(5) the date of installation or activation.

(c) Information provided to a governmental body under this section is confidential and subject to disclosure only as provided under Section 1702.284.

(d) An alarm systems company commits an offense if the company violates Subsection (a) or (b). An offense under this subsection is a Class C misdemeanor.

(e) The duties imposed by this section on an alarm systems company do not apply to the installation or activation of a personal emergency response system, as defined under Section 1702.006.

Sec. 1702.287. DETECTION DEVICE CONTROL PANELS; MINIMUM STANDARDS. An alarm systems company may not install any alarm system on or after January 1, 2007, that includes a detection device control panel unless the control panel meets or exceeds the standards of the American National Standards Institute for false alarm reduction.

Sec. 1702.288. NOTICE OF CERTAIN INFORMATION TO RECIPIENT OF ALARM SYSTEM SERVICES. (a) The board shall adopt rules in accordance with this section that require a license holder acting as an alarm systems company under this chapter to inform each of the license holder's clients that the client is entitled to receive a written contract for alarm system services that contains the client's fee arrangement and other relevant information about services to be rendered.

(b) The rules shall require that a written contract for alarm system services shall be furnished to a client in accordance with Subsection (a) not later than the seventh day after the date the client requests the written contract.

(c) The rules shall require that the written contract for services shall be dated and signed by the owner or manager of an alarm systems company or a person expressly authorized by the owner or manager to sign written contracts on behalf of the company.

(d) The rules shall require that, not later than the seventh day after the date of entering into a contract for services regulated by the board with another alarm systems company or alarm systems monitor, an alarm systems company shall:

(1) notify the recipient of those services of the name, address, and telephone number, and individual to contact at the company that purchased the contract;

(2) notify the recipient of services at the time the contract is negotiated that another licensed company may provide any of the services requested by subcontracting or outsourcing those services; and

(3) if any of the services are subcontracted or outsourced to a licensed third party, notify the recipient of services, by mail, of the name, address, phone number, and license number of the company providing those services.

(e) The rules shall require that notice provided to a recipient of services under Subsection (d) shall:

(1) be mailed to the recipient in a written form that emphasizes the required information; and

(2) include stickers or other materials to be affixed to an alarm system indicating the alarm systems company's or alarm systems monitor's new telephone number.

SECTION 8. Section 1702.286, Occupations Code, as added by this Act, applies only to an alarm system installed or activated on or after January 1, 2006.

SECTION 9. This Act takes effect September 1, 2005.

Loading