Efforts by AT&T, Verizon to Adversely Impact Legislation at the State Level in 2013
The Electronic Security Association (ESA) urged security dealers to be vigilant against state legislation targeting licensing and other statutes. ESA noted that there have been significant actions by state legislatures at the end of this year which should put ESA chapters, members and industry supporters on high alert as the 2013 state legislative sessions begin. Most notably, AT&T is waging an intense lobbying effort in Michigan to create a separate licensing structure for security systems that is tilted in its favor —one that does not conform to standard requirements within the industry, such as background checks, training and other rules.
Documentation regarding the Michigan legislation is available for review at www.ESAweb.org/SLR, including text of both bills currently being considered; testimony by Tyco and ADT before the Michigan House Energy and Technology Committee; and letters from ESA, SIA, and the Illinois Electronic Security Association supporting the position of the Burglar & Fire Alarm Association of Michigan (BFAAM) against the bills.
AT&T is currently in the middle of a targeted and intense lobbying effort in Michigan to carve out a separate licensing scheme for security systems. AT&T has "convinced” state legislators that they have "new technology” that requires this change in existing statutes. However, at a recent legislative committee hearing on the bills, when asked why they could not comply with existing state licensing statutes, AT&T officials had no answer.
ESA has supported efforts by BFAAM to fight AT&T's attempt to pass this legislation that would create licensing scheme for "IP Enabled Security Systems,” avoiding compliance with existing statutes that apply to licensed security professionals. With AT&T’s considerable backing, this legislation sailed quickly through the state Senate, and was the subject of a hastily called House Committee hearing on Nov. 8. It is now on a "fast track” to pass the legislature and be signed into law by the governor.
ESA — along with SIA, ADT, Tyco and other entities (including Michigan state regulators and chiefs of police) — has opposed this "fast track” and urged supporters of the bill to comply with existing laws and regulations for security companies that operate in the state.
Chapters, association members and industry officials should be aware that AT&T has indicated that its efforts in Michigan will be repeated in other 2013 state sessions. ESA was already informed by the Arizona Alarm Association that AT&T has indicated its support for pre-filing amendments to the newly passed Arizona licensing law.
Verizon is another telephone company that has become active in state legislation, supporting a measure in Pennsylvania to deregulate the telephone industry in that state. ESA expects other states to be facing similar challenges, and ESA strongly urged all chapters to be vigilant regarding these initiatives.
As a member of the Alarm Industry Communications Committee (AICC), ESA reached out to enlist its help in resisting attempts by telephone companies to contradict existing statutes that license and regulate the industry, and in most cases would create an uneven playing field in the security marketplace. ESA has recommended that AICC review these actions in light of the fact that telephone companies are a highly regulated utility and come under many rules and restrictions from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Historically, in fact, AICC and the industry successfully convinced Congress to prohibit telephone company intrusion into the security business when AT&T was broken up into smaller regional "Baby Bells.”
ESA will address this issue in a number of venues at the 2013 ESA Leadership Summit, Feb. 18-21 in Orlando, Fla., including the Government Relations committee, the Board of Directors, and the Chartered Chapter meeting, among others.