Licensing to move across state lines
Sunday, February 1, 2004

VIENNA, Va. - The Central Station Alarm Association and the Alarm Industry Communications Committee are planning to get the Alarm Monitoring Licensing Standards and Reciprocity Act of 2004 introduced and possibly passed during this year’s congressional session.

“We’ve got a number of senators and representatives who have shown a real interest in sponsoring this act,” said Steve Doyle, executive vice president of the CSAA. “The time is right because the people we’ve talked to up on the hill - whose names we can’t release until they actually sign on to the bill - have admitted that the Congress is woefully behind in legislation that helps facilitate interstate commerce electronically in this electronic age.”

According to the draft of the bill, if passed, the Reciprocity Act would allow monitoring companies and their employees to meet a federally defined minimum licensing standards in their home states and have those standards recognized by other states. Companies would still have to obtain licenses in states where they do business, but their employees would not be required to appear in other states for fingerprinting or testing.

“It’s a heck of a problem that affects a lot of central stations in this country,” Doyle said. “Right now, every podunk jurisdiction out there wants to have its own requirement.”

At present, Doyle said, alarm companies who do business in a number of states are spending a lot of time sending their employees to different places for certification or licensing.

“The bill does mandate that states have a reciprocal arrangement and recognize that if you’re fingerprinted in one state, you can get the license in the other state without having to travel to Timbuktu to do it,” he said. “There’s nothing terribly onerous about this. The only thing it does is that the bureaucrat at the state level won’t get to put his rubber stamp on somebody’s fingerprints. He’ll still get his money because they’ll still have to get a license in that state. He’ll have to accept the fact that the other state did its due diligence.”

Doyle said he hopes the bill will be passed by the end of the year, but realizes that, especially in an election year, things don’t always move swiftly through Congress.

“It should move through, but the only question we have is that these things normally take a couple of congresses,” Doyle said. “You often don’t get it through the first time around. If you’ve got a reasonable bill, there’s a pretty good chance you can get it through.”

Talk of a reciprocity bill began about four years ago, Doyle said, when the Security Industry Association’s Third Party Monitoring Group approached CSAA to gauge the possibility of licensing reciprocity between states. That led to the CSAA developing a licensing and reciprocity draft standard. The National Association of State Investigative Regulators, at the behest of state security licensing regulators, tried its hand at establishing reciprocal licensing arrangements between states. However, after three years, this initiative was unsuccessful, so AICC took over. Lobbyist Bill Signer of Chambers & Associates is representing AICC on Capitol Hill.

AICC has been working on this bill for nearly three years, according to Lou Fiore, AICC chairman. Fiore said crafting this bill with input from various industry sources was not as difficult as it might have been if it hadn’t centered solely on the monitoring aspect.

“Had we delved into the waters of installation, I think we would have had a tremendous amount of problems,” Fiore said. “But because it’s on the monitoring side, I think we’re in pretty good accord.”

CSAA will kick off its campaign to get this bill passed at its upcoming North American Monitoring Technology Symposium & Exhibition to be held in Memphis, Tenn., from April 15-19. Those who are interested in helping with the planning to move the legislation forward will be able to participate in an open forum at NAMTSE, Doyle said.

“We’d like to get the central stations behind us supporting it because it’s something that’s going to take a little while and it’s going to take some dollars to move it,” he said.