Government Watch

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Tuesday, April 1, 2008

CCFS and NBFAA partner

The National Burglar & Fire Alarm Association is working with the Center for Campus Fire Safety on its “Fire Detection plus Fire Suppression equals Fire Safety” campaign, the NBFAA announced in March. The NBFAA has worked with Rep. Vito Fossella, R-N.Y., to draft language that would establish a demonstration incentive program within the U.S. Department of Education to promote the professional installation of fire alarm detection systems, or other fire prevention technologies in qualified student housing, dormitories, and other university buildings. On Feb. 7, the House passed a Higher Education Act, by a vote of 354-58, that included language from H.R. 1409, the College Life Safety and Fire Prevention Act introduced by Fossella. “The addition of the CCFS will help us in our efforts to get this legislation signed into law. We’re gratified to have the assistance of an organization that provides a central focal point for the complex issues surrounding campus fire safety,” NBFAA director of government relations John Chwat, said in a statement.
NYAPAC is the new PAC in New York
The New York Burglar & Fire Alarm Association has launched a Political Action Committee to “strengthen our voice in the political process in Albany,” according to a story by Tim Creenan, in the NYBFAA publication. The PAC has a kind of term-limit built into its structure, with five voting members (coming from the NYBFAA executive committee) and two non-voting members to “ensure transition and that no one person will be chair or member of the committee for an undefined amount of time.” The two non-voting members are the executive director and director of government affairs of the NYBFAA. The idea is to allow the PAC to “mirror the agenda of the NYBFAA” and to enable the NYBFAA Board of Directors to amend the PAC’s bylaws as they see fit. The NYAPAC has begun fundraising among its members and outlined a potential agenda. Items under consideration are: Amending the state insurance law to exempt alarm monitoring contracts from automatic renewal requirements; fire alarm installation requirements; alarm monitoring center regulations and requirements; keeping an eye on industry-related regulations in Albany, N.Y.
NASCO testifies in support of background checks
Joseph Ricci, executive director of the National Association of Security Companies, testified on Capitol Hill on Feb. 26 in support of background checks. NASCO represents firms employing more than 500,000 security officers. Ricci testified in front of the House Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor and Pensions regarding HR 2703 “Private Security Officer Employment Authorization Act.” The act contains a provision that would create a third-party clearinghouse to ease access to FBI Criminal History Records Information checks for security guards in every state. Ricci cited “public policy and compelling homeland security reasons” for passing the legislation.
SIA at work on schools, copper-theft legislation
The Security Industry Association is working with Rep. Steve Rothman, D-N.J., to secure full FY2009 funding for the Secure Our Schools Program administered by the U.S. Department of Justice. Established in 2000, the program provides law enforcement and K-12 schools with federal grant funds that can be used to purchase video surveillance, metal detectors, security assessments and access control systems.
Don Erickson, SIA’s legislative director, is working to persuade members of Congress to sign a letter authored by Rothman to the House Appropriations Committee that would provide $30 million for this important school safety program. This issue is a key component of SIA’s 2008 legislative agenda. SIA is encouraging its members and their customers to contact their representatives to urge their support of the Rothman school security letter. The letter can be downloaded at http://www.siaonline.org/news/newsletter/mar62008/secure_our_schools_let....
An issue that SIA expects to do more work on is copper theft. As instances of copper theft rise (see related story, page 17), industry is forced to pass increased expenses on to consumers in the form of higher construction and utility costs. Though many states and local municipalities have laws in place to deter copper theft, some stakeholders believe more stringent policies are needed. SIA is monitoring state legislative proposals addressing copper theft to determine the specific impact of this rising problem on security companies and their customers. The issue will also be a discussion item during SIA’s upcoming State & Local Policy Working Group meeting. SSN