The Illinois Electronic Security Association (IESA) wants security industry professionals to be aware that the Illinois alarm industry is facing its most significant threat ever — even more so than in 2011 — because Senate Bill 1495 has advanced to the Local Government Committee in the Illinois Senate, chaired by the bill’s sponsor, Thomas Cullerton, who is a cousin of Senate President John Cullerton. The Illinois Electronic Security Association opposes SB 1495, which was put forth by the state associations for fire chiefs and fire inspectors as a means to allow fire protection districts to adopt ordinances regulating the supervision and monitoring of fire alarm systems, and collect fees for fire alarm services that are provided to customers by the district itself or through its selected vendor.

“This is a nationwide issue for our industry,” Kevin Lehan, executive president, IESA, told SDM. “When I graduated high school in the early ‘90s, there were two places you could gamble in America — Las Vegas and Atlantic City. Today, including in Illinois, 41 states have state-sanctioned commercially operated or tribal gambling just one generation later.” He continued, “The proliferation is directly related to the tax revenue states could generate. In recent years, marijuana has been decriminalized in some states, with more eyeing the potential revenue. If this Illinois Senate Bill 1495 passes in Illinois, it won’t be long until the concept of municipal monitoring spreads nationwide like casinos or marijuana. It’s a cash grab and other states would follow suit.”

And this isn’t the only threat on the Illinois Senate floor. Another threat is Senate Bill 1685 that creates redundant licensure and establishes redundant requirements for the design, installation, repair, inspection and testing of fire alarm systems.

This bill calls for a person with a NICET Level 3 certification or higher for system design and NICET Level 2 for inspection and testing of fire alarm systems. If passed, SB 1685 would prohibit all currently licensed Alarm Contractors from continuing to perform those services unless they hired a person with a NICET Level 3 certification. Since there are only 347 NICET Level 3 persons certified in Illinois, virtually 90 percent of existing private alarm companies will be forced to shut down, Lehan described.

In order to go head-to-head with government and try to stop these bills, which would harm the industry, the IESA will host a Day in Springfield for all alarm contractors, not just members, on March 25, 2015. Lehan shared that everyone involved will assemble at The State House Inn, Springfield, Ill., and IESA will follow up with details in the coming week.

At press time, IESA was scheduled to hold its membership meeting on March 11, 2015 to update members on the situation and make further plans for its Day in Springfield. IESA asks each member or those non-members planning to attend the trip to the Illinois capitol, to share each state senator and representative for both home and district in order to coordinate a direct outreach during the visit. “Even if you cannot attend the meeting, please share this information,” stated Lehan in an email to industry members.

IESA urges members to attend both meetings in March, and if they cannot, to address their senators and representative to tell them they oppose it — in email, a phone call, or a personal visit. “We oppose this bill not only on the basis that the government is looking to take over a service that has been provided by the private industry for 100 years, but also the proposed legislation would pre-empt ongoing litigation. The legislative branch should not interfere with the judicial branch,” said Lehan.

“During the Illinois Electronic Security Association’s meeting this evening, we will lay out the plans for the alarm industry’s day at our state capitol on March 25. If you are a licensed alarm contractor in Illinois, we encourage you to participate.” On the Day in Springfield, IESA will meet with every senator and key committee members in the house to help educate them about the harmful impact of this bill, shared Lehan. “If alarms are your business, you need to attend this important legislative event,” he added.