House passes CO bill unanimously

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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

WASHINGTON—A bill that establishes a grant program for the installation of CO detectors that meet ANSI/UL standards was unanimously approved by the House of Representatives this afternoon and industry advocates are optimistic that the legislation will fare equally well in the Senate and become law by the end of the year.

"We hope after the August recess, the bill will be hotlined in the Senate, which basically means that it's taken up and can be approved by a unanimous voice vote," said Don Erickson, legislative director for the Security Industry Association.

"If that doesn't happen it will have to go through the regular committee process," he said. This would take longer, but isn't necessarily bad for the industry, Erickson said, noting that the bill that emerged from the committee process in the House was more favorable to the industry than the original bill. The approved bill specifies that grant monies may be used for the professional installation of CO detectors, something the original bill did not specify.

 "It's a better bill and it passed unanimously. It's definitely got some momentum," he said.

The bill, HR 1796, called the Residential Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Prevention Act, requires the Consumer Product Safety Commission to prohibit the sale of CO detectors that do not meet ANSI/UL standards. It also creates a $10 million grant program to help state and local governments promote the use of CO detectors.

And there's reason to believe that appropriating money for the grant program, always a point of objection for some legislators, will not be a problem in this case.

Erickson pointed out that the measure has the support of conservative Georgia Republican congressman Phil Gingrey, who spoke in favor of the bill today before the vote. Erickson said the congressman is an avid proponent of the bill because of an incident from his childhood, which he spoke about on the House floor. When Gingrey was growing up, his parents owned a motel and one night, three soldiers died in one of the motel rooms as the result of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Having a conservative Republican backing the bill "will help mitigate any concerns about the cost of the grant program," Erickson noted.

The lead sponsor of the House bill is Rep. Jim Matheson (D-Utah). Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) is the lead sponsor in the Senate.

SIA collaborated with the National Electrical Manufacturers Association and the Electronic Security Association to advocate for the bill.

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