HR 3179 sails through in December
A bill that seeks to make it easier for state and local governments to buy security and fire alarm equipment, called The Local Preparedness Acquisition Act (HR 3179), passed the House of Representatives unanimously on Dec. 17, just before Congress recessed for the year.
The Security Industry Association is "confident that this bill will be enacted into law this year," said Don Erickson, director of government relations for the group. Erickson worked with the sponsoring congressmen--Rep. Ed Towns (D-NY) and Rep. Brian Bilbray (R-Calif.)--to craft the bill, which was introduced in July.
Prior to the vote of the full House, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee unanimously approved the bill on Nov. 8.
"If enacted into law, we believe this legislation would create new business opportunities with local governments for our members while ensuring that local governments received security products quicker at fair and reasonable prices," he said. Erickson noted that the bill was also endorsed by the National Association of Counties, "whose members are buyers of security solutions."
Erickson said SIA's in contact with and has "had good conversations with Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee staff," the committee that will be responsible for the bill on the Senate side.
First draft of Hospital Grant Program done
Moving forward with its 2008 legislative agenda, SIA has worked with an organization that represents the security directors of hundreds of hospitals, the International Association of Healthcare Security & Safety, developing a draft bill, the "Securing America's Hospitals Act."
It's in first draft, but right now the bill calls for the authorization of $500 million to create a grant program administered by the Department of Health and Human Services. The funds could be used by hospitals to acquire electronic security solutions such as access control and video surveillance solutions.
"SIA recognizes the need to advocate for additional funding to protect patients, hospital staff, and visitors at hospitals and together with IAHSS we will be seeking the introduction and passage of the [bill]," Erickson explained.
SIA is "discussing the proposal with additional health care organizations with the goal of having it introduced in Congress by the late spring of this year."
Erickson noted SIA has proactively worked with those who would make the decisions to purchase the security equipment if the proposals were enacted into law. "In the case of cooperative purchasing, it is the county governments," he said. "And it is the security directors of those hospitals. In each case, having the support of end users gives these proposals additional credibility."