The Electronic Security Association announced late last week that it is supporting the Burglar and Fire Alarm Association of Michigan in opposing proposed legislation that would establish a separate set of licensing requirements for installing IP-enabled security systems in the state.
According to a statement, Senate bills 1291 and 1292, would also circumvent existing statutes followed by BFAAM members and other providers and potentially benefit the entry of telecommunications companies into the Michigan market.
Specifically, the ESA and BFAAM say the legislation would:
- Create a new licensing structure with a definition of a security system as "IP-enabled," primarily because it sends signals via the internet.
- Require many current providers to obtain two licenses – one under the existing statute and a second one under the new classifications.
- Allow new entrants into the industry to circumvent existing requirements for criminal background checks.
According to Dean Belisle, president of the BFAAM and president of ACT NOW Alarm Services Inc. in Clinton Township, Mich., the organization became aware of the proposed legislation the day after it was introduced on the Senate floor, and only "by a stroke of luck when our lobbyist ran into the senator's aide who was working on the issue. The Senator’s aide explained that they had been unable to find a contact or representative of the Security Industry to include in an upcoming Workshop on the topic."
Belisle said subsequently association representatives were invited and attended the workshop but it was obvious it was a "late invitation" to the industry. He added that although they tried to have the proposed legislation changed,when it came to the senate floor very little had been altered in the bill. "What we are having trouble communicating to them is that any loophole they achieve for themselves has reprecussions all throughout the industry," he said.
Both BFAAM and ESA were also troubled by the unusually fast track for the two bills. Unlike other legislation, which often takes weeks or months to wind its way through the approval process, the two bills were introduced on Sept. 19 and approved by the state Senate on Sept. 27 without adequate hearings or input from affected businesses or citizens. "After being approved by the Senate, the bills moved immediately for introduction in the House the same day," the ESA said in its statement issued on the bill.
In a letter sent to several state lawmakers, ESA President John Knox explained why the associations oppose the bills and stated that "proponents of the bill should instead update the definitions of a security alarm company or system contained in the present statutes, rather than creating a new and burdensome licensing scheme."
John Chwat, Director of Government Relations for ESA said the association became aware of the bill the day it was introduced and "that's not how you work with an organization." As far as he can tell, there's no indication of any similar legislation pending for introduction in any other state.
"Most people think legislation takes a long time to be introduced but that's not always the case," he commented. "This was introduced on September 19 and passed by September 27th. It's been sent to the lower House of Representatives. So far we have had no response from official letters sent to the legislators responsible for the bill," he said.
Chwat said ESA will continue to support and assist the efforts of the BFAAM and has also asked for support from the Alarm Industry Communications Committee. "We'd like AT&T to work within the licensing regulations that already exist. I'm convinced that AT&T and Verizon will come back and expand their efforts in this direction," Chwat added.
Attempts to reach AT&T for comments were unanswered.