Government Watch

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Campus safety grant bill heads to conference committee
As Security Systems News was going to press in early February, the House of Representatives was expected, within days, to pass H.R. 4137, a bill that provides federal campus safety grants, and thanks to a provision that the Security Industry Association worked to get included in the bill, the grants may be used for the "acquisition and installation of access control, video surveillance, intrusion detection, and perimeter security technologies and systems."
SIA's legislative director, Don Erickson, said the grant "gives colleges and universities another option when accessing campus safety grant funds to develop a more complete or holistic approach to protecting faculty, students, and visitors on their campuses."
Before this bill becomes law, it must go to a House-Senate conference committee to reconcile differences between H.R. 4137 and a similar bill passed in the Senate last summer.
While the Senate version does not currently include the SIA provision, SIA "certainly intends to communicate with the Senate about this provision," said Erickson.
"I am not aware of any opposition to it at this time. I know the House committee, as it was developing its own changes to the bill, was understandably very strict about the number of new proposals that it would consider. To their credit, they saw the value of our suggestion," he said.
"Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-NY) was instrumental in advocating for this security provision with her committee leadership," he added.

South Carolina Legislature looks at offsetting cost of sprinkler installation
Fire sprinkler advocates have been pushing for the Fire Sprinkler Incentive Act to become law at the federal level for a few years; now South Carolina is looking at similar legislation. The federal Fire Sprinkler Incentive Act would give tax credits to businesses that install sprinklers.
In South Carolina, the House Ways and Means Committee passed a bill that would give up to $50,000 in tax credits to home owners and business owners who install fire sprinklers, according to a Jan. 30 report from News Channel 7.
This would allow the taxpayers "to offset 80 percent of the cost of the system," the report said.
On the Senate side, Senate President Pro Tem Glenn McConnell is proposing giving up to a $5,000 tax credit for sprinklers installed in commercial buildings.
This area of the country has had several tragic fires in recent months, including a fire in a Charleston furniture store in June 2007 in which nine firefighters were killed, and a fire in Ocean Isle Beach, N.C., in which seven college students died.
The television station reported that North Carolina firefighters were unsuccessful in an attempt in December to get the state Building Code Council to require large and multi-level homes to install sprinkler system. The report said the council "refused to consider the proposal."