Government Watch

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Stimulating the industry

Just how stimulating will the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 be for the security industry? Well, the Security Industry Association would have been happier if language supported by the Obama administration and SIA that specified “built-in security as a priority or authorized use of stimulus package funds” had been used, said Don Erickson, SIA’s legislative director. “We are very disappointed they did not include [special authorization] for built-in security in the bill … since the primary purpose of the bill was to stimulate the economy [and this language] would have enabled state and local government [to quickly justify the use of funds for the installation of physical security],” he said.

However, this does not mean that it will be impossible for state and local governments to use stimulus funds for physical security initiatives, Erickson explained. Far from it, and industry groups such as SIA and the NBFAA are hard at work figuring out what funds are available for whom and for what projects. The NBFAA on March 6 sent out a message to members encouraging them to check with their “local school district officials and area colleges and universities to present products and services for projects” that may fall under the Department of Education State Stabilization Fund.

As part of the stimulus package, Congress allotted $53.6 billion to this fund, “portions of which are available to schools now and may be used for the professional installation of life safety and security equipment.”

SIA has a nice, succinct breakdown of “Key Appropriations Provisions of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act” on its Web site ( under the government relations section. Regarding the $53.6 billion Department of Education State Stabilization Fund, it notes, “States are required to use 81.8 percent of their awarded funds to support primary, elementary and secondary education; 18.2 percent of each state’s allocations may be used for public safety and other government services that may include school modernization, renovation, and repair.”

This document notes that stimulus package funds in general are “available through Sept. 30, 2010,” and preference is given to projects in which 50 percent of funds can be used for activities initiated within 120 days of the date of the enactment of the Act (Feb. 17).

Regarding the “built-in security initiative,” mentioned above, SIA’s Erickson notes that it will be pushing this again once the FY 2010 budget process begins.

Fire Sprinkler Incentive Act reintroduced

The National Fire Sprinkler Association wasted little time this legislative session in prompting the reintroduction to the current Congress of the Fire Sprinkler Incentive Act.

It also organized a day of lobbying by bill proponents in early March. The bill, which has been introduced in several past years, would give tax incentives to business owners who retrofit

existing buildings with sprinklers. Specifically, the bill would reduce the tax depreciation time for retrofitting sprinklers in nonresidential real property from 39 years to five. Rep. Jim Langevin (D-RI) introduced the Fire Sprinkler Incentive Act to the 111th Congress in late February. The bill, HR1194, had 55 co-sponsors, including primary cosponsor Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA). On March 3, the NFSA Common Voices advocacy ladies, accompanied by representatives of the national fire and building organizations, fire sprinkler labor representatives and uniformed fire personnel, visited selected Congressional offices to drum up additional cosponsor support for the bill.