Government Watch

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Support percolates for repeal of withholding mandate
Things heat up both inside and outside in June and July on Capitol Hill. "It's the most hectic six weeks in June and July before the Congress adjourns in August," said John Chwat, legislative director for the National Burglar and Fire Alarm Association.
The security industry has lined up behind two bills, S777 and HR 1023, that seek to quash a mandate scheduled to go into effect in 2011 that would require all state and many local governments to withhold three percent of payments to vendors (such as security integrators). S777 was introduced by Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho) and HR 1023 was introduced by Rep. Kendrick Meek (D-Fla.). The House bill has 114 co-sponsors and "there's a lot of support for both," said Chwat.

College fire bill scores two endorsements
Two groups have recently signed on to support HR 1409, the College Life Safety and Fire Prevention Act: the Security Industry Association and the North-American Interfraternity Conference, which represents 69 fraternities located on 800 campuses in the United States and Canada, with approximately 350,000 members.
The bill seeks to establish a demonstration incentive program within the U.S. Department of Education to promote the installation of fire alarm detection systems or other fire prevention technologies in qualified student housing. The bill was reintroduced this year by Rep. Vito Fossella (R-NY).

Fire Sprinkler Act moves ahead
Jim Dalton, the National Fire Sprinkler Association's advocate on Capitol Hill, reports that their main piece of legislation, the Fire Sprinkler Incentive Act (S582), which would give tax breaks to those who retrofit homes or businesses with sprinklers, is "percolating along." Specifically, it would allow property owners to recoup the cost of the system by accelerating the tax depreciation from the current 39 years to five years. Dalton is working with the bill's lead Senate sponsor, Sen. Gordon Smith (R-Ore.), to figure out "what the agenda is going to look like for tax work in the Senate this year," Dalton said. "Even though the score of the bill [the estimated cost of the bill] is down, it still needs to be attached to tax legislation and we need to find the right fit," he explained.
In the meantime, Dalton is mobilizing other likely supporters of the bill who include Steve Muncie of the American Fire Sprinkler Organization; Jim Shannon, president of the National Fire Protection Association; and the National Volunteer Fire Council.