ESA’s Chwat rates the regulation and legislation of interest in 2015

Broadband initiative is front of mind for ESA’s lobbyist
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Friday, January 30, 2015

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—From changes in the way broadband will be expanded to federal funding for school security technology to nursing home surveillance, there is plenty of legislation of interest to security installers on Capitol Hill, according to John Chwat, ESA’s director of government relations.

Broadband’s use within the industry for monitoring and alarms is on a front burner. ESA was in the process of preparing comments for the FCC on impacts of a major regulatory initiative that includes changes in battery backup, copper retirement and its effect on POTS, and the protection of consumer concerns within the broadband area, Chwat said.

ESA, along with SIA, also continues its efforts on the school safety front.

“We are trying to convince the Department of Justice, Department of Education and Congress to permit the tens of millions of dollars being spent on school security grants at the federal level to be available for the procurement of security technologies” rather than just for research, mentoring and mental health studies, for example, he said. This has been an ongoing issue

States have actively funded school security technology upgrades, he said. “They’re very attuned to that. Now we want the federal government to do the same.”

This could be a good year for that, he said. There are new appropriation leaders in Congress and the education community has a growing understanding that federal funds do not provide for security technology.

Chwat said recent school shootings and terrorist activities abroad, such as the killing of 132 children and 13 others at a school in Peshawar, Pakistan, have focused attention on the need to upgrade school security.

On the health care front, there’s been movement on the state level to allow the voluntary placement of surveillance equipment in nursing homes to record physical abuse, neglect, thefts and other related problems.

Oklahoma and Virginia have passed laws allowing cameras in nursing homes. Other states, such as Illinois and South Carolina, are working on bills, he said.

“There’s a tremendous movement on a state level for 2015,” he said, and ESA will encourage Congress to study the issue under the Older Americans Act, which includes topics on elder abuse prevention.

“There are mitigating concerns that the nursing home industry should think about,” including liability and abuse, he said.

“Then there’s the RMR factor. Once the surveillance is installed it needs to be properly maintained, and there are opportunities for everyone in the industry. It’s a good issue and we’ll be pursuing it.”

Other “hot-button” issues that ESA is keeping tabs on include getting tax benefits for residential and commercial buildings for fire sprinklers. “We’ve advocated that for five years,” Chwat said.

ESA also is working closely with state legislatures and the “hundreds and hundreds” of their bills that have an impact on the security industry, he said.