New blood, action in Congress?

Monday, January 1, 2007

WASHINGTON--The most significant result of the election of the 110th Congress has been the emergence of Ed Markey (D-Mass.) as the chair of the Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet, according to John Murphy, current president of the CSAA and president of Vector Security in New Jersey. "Having someone who has been willing to listen to the alarm industry in the past reemerge as the head of telecom ...That is the most significant thing that has happened," said Murphy.
Markey's subcommittee, part of the Energy and Commerce Committee, is of prime importance because this is where issues such as VoIP language in the telecommunications bill are first debated.
Murphy and others agree that the most critical issues affecting the security industry as a whole are the AMPS sunset in 2008, VoIP, and in the case of monitoring, specifically, licensing reciprocity: standardization in terms of regulation for monitoring throughout the country. In
other words, should an industry-backed bill goes through, "If your monitoring license is in your home state, you'll be licensed throughout country," said Lou Fiore, president of I.T. Fiore in New Jersey.
Fiore doesn't see a big change coming with the rise in power of the Democrats. He said neither VoIP nor the reciprocity issue are major political footballs, and are a chance for Congress to work together. "If anything positive would come out of the Congress, this might be it."
Steve Doyle, executive vice president of the Central Station Alarm Association, agrees.
"I think in some ways the Democrats look on these issues a little more favorably than the Republicans did," said Doyle. "They're looking at licensing and reciprocity, and there's an indication that they feel we're behind the times on electronic interstate commerce. We're hopeful we have some folks in there who we can work with." He added, "When you get new blood coming into Congress, they come in looking to do something good--they see VoIP and realize this is something that needs to be done for the good of the country."
While an amendment requiring VoIP providers to notify alarm system owners of potential service disruption was passed in the House last year, the bill never made it to the floor of the Senate. The entire telecommunications bill was sidelined and "should be resurrected for the 110th Congress," according to Fiore. Many in the security industry were disappointed when the bill failed in the Senate.
"We have been walking the halls of Congress for the last several years," said Murphy. "Candidly, while people were waiting for the election, no one wanted to take action, they just hunkered down. They just didn't want to do anything to appear to create a benefit for the other side." Murphy is hopeful that Congress will be more receptive to the needs of the security industry. "What I'm hoping is that the election will send a message to Congress--it doesn't matter if there is an 'R' or a 'D' after your name, we need some bipartisan effort."