Gov. Watch: Bailout edition

Saturday, November 1, 2008

In early October, as Security Systems News went to press, folks on Capital Hill were preoccupied, understandably, with the Wall Street bailout, which it was struggling to structure and pass before its scheduled October adjournment.

How does the bailout affect efforts by industry groups, such as SIA? Legislative director Don Erickson said the chances for full funding of many programs is “really diminished,” particularly for programs over $100 million, such as the “Securing America’s Hospitals Act,” which called for the authorization of $500 million.

In addition, with the bailout on the front burner, other issues are being delayed. For example, on Sept. 17, the House passed HR 2352, a bill that would reauthorize the “Secure Our Schools” grant program at $50 million annually. Schools can use grant funds to purchase video surveillance, access control and other physical security products. SIA was working with Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), who was working with Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) to get the bill passed by “unanimous consent” before the adjournment. “They definitely support the bill, but it’s just a matter of if they’ll have the time to do it,” Erickson said.

In other (good) news

There was some good news for the security industry that came out of Washington this September. For one, integrators can now take advantage of the “The Local Preparedness Acquisition Act,” which allows state and local governments to purchase fire alarm systems, access control devices, perimeter security, video surveillance systems and other homeland security goods and services at GSA-approved prices. The Security Industry Association worked to get the bill passed earlier this summer, but the “interim rule” (which outlines how the process works) was just released by the GSA on Sept. 26.

In California, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Sept. 28 vetoed CA Senate Bill 29, an “anti-RFID bill” that would have prohibited the use of RFID technology on cards used for the use of taking attendance in California public schools. The previous week, SIA had sent the governor a letter urging him to veto the bill. “The crux of [the governor’s objections to the bill, and SIA’s objection to the bill] is that this bill unfairly targeted one technology,” Erickson said.