May is here, and many state legislatures will soon adjourn for the year, giving the CEDIA Government Affairs department a moment to catch our breath.
But only just a moment. There are still some legislatures that do business through the summer, as well as several that meet year-round. In addition, we will be hard at work this summer on various projects, including updating the CEDIA Licensing & Regulatory Reference Directory
, your go-to source for information on home technology professional licensing in every state/province you do business in.
Here are some recent highlights of the busy 2016 session. Although your state may not be mentioned specifically in our alerts, we are constantly working to make sure bad legislation is not enacted and copied in other states. In 2016 thus far, we have analyzed and continue to track 154 bills (and 14 regulations) in 37 states.
Since the beginning of 2014, CEDIA has seen legislative and regulatory initiatives in the Garden State seeking to classify the work of home technology professionals inappropriately, as either the work of electrical contractors or security/alarm contractors. State regulators also narrowed the limited telecommunications wiring exemption, which helps keep residential electronics system integrators from being subject to an unnecessarily onerous electrical contractors license.
On February 4, CEDIA representatives had three meetings concerning legislation we would like to introduce to better support the licensing of home technology professionals working throughout New Jersey. The meetings were a follow-up from our testimony before the Red Tape Review Commission in November 2015.
During the course of the day, we met with Assemblyman Scott Rumana, a member of the Red Tape Review Commission; Dave Vitali, deputy chief of staff for Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno; and Assemblyman Thomas Giblin, chairman of the Assembly Regulated Professions Committee. We conveyed our concerns, not only with the narrowing of the telecommunications wiring exemption, but also concerning legislation, including Assembly Bill 1972, Senate Bill 1902, and Assembly Bill 3574 (bills which CEDIA Government Affairs continues to closely monitor).
On March 29, we met with staff from the offices of Governor Chris Christie, Lt. Governor Guadagno, and the Division of Consumer Affairs. The meetings were productive.
On April 6, Darren Reaman, CEDIA Director of Government Affairs, testified before the New Jersey Board of Examiners of Electrical Contractors to advocate for our New Jersey-based members and the home technology industry as a whole. Reaman encouraged the board to consider a proposed amendment to the limited telecommunications wiring exemption.
We continue to watch House Bill 3846, an act introduced in October 2015 that seeks to streamline low-voltage alarm system installation and permitting. While the legislation’s intent is to streamline the local permit requirements for security systems, we are concerned that the legislation (as introduced) would require home technology professionals to get a systems contractors license (alarm license) for all home automation projects.
CEDIA’s amendment language ensures that no new or additional licensure requirements in residential or commercial premises will be imposed. HB 3846 had a public hearing before the Joint Committee on Consumer Protection & Professional Licensure in January and has been voted from committee.
Two companion bills, Senate Bill 773/House Bill 2063, have kept us busy this session. Both concern the issue of statewide electrical licensing, and each has an exemption for the work of home technology professionals. However, while SB 773 has the updated exemption CEDIA worked on with the Electronic Security Association and the Satellite and Broadcast Communications Association in 2014, HB 2063, still has the outdated exemption language.
We proposed an amendment for HB 2063 to the bill sponsor, Representative Kirk Mathews. The amendment will ensure HB 2063 has the same language as SB 773. Both SB 773 and HB 2063 have had committee hearings and are currently in committee.
MEETING ON UNITED FOR PATENT REFORM
On March 22, we met with U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly’s state director, Hodge Patel, and general counsel at Donnelly’s office in downtown Indianapolis. The meeting was organized by the United for Patent Reform coalition, of which CEDIA is a member. Two Indiana-based companies that were impacted by patent trolls were also in attendance. United for Patent Reform wants to bring together various industries and interests harmed by abuses of the current patent system in order to advocate for a comprehensive solution, including federal patent reform legislation.
If you or your company have been a victim of patent trolls, please let us know. Your story could help influence federal lawmakers to fix the current system.
BECOME A GRASSROOTS VOLUNTEER
We are always looking to add volunteers to our Grassroots Legislative Network
. The more volunteers at our disposal, the more likely we will be to keep harmful legislation at bay.
Although Texas is not in session in 2016, it will return in 2017, and it is important that we have a state captain there to consult with, as it is CEDIA’s third largest state membership-wise. If you wish to volunteer for the position, or want to suggest someone who you think might be good for the role, please reach out to us.
Other states for which we need captains include Minnesota, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Montana, and Louisiana.
Learn more about how to join the CEDIA Grassroots Volunteer Committee
Nick McLain is CEDIA’s Government Affairs Manager. Nick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org