Occupational licensing that comports with the skillsets needed for specific occupations and serves to protect the health, safety and welfare of consumers is a public good. The electronic security and life safety industry is widely regulated in local and state governments because it is deemed to be in the public interest for alarm and life safety systems to be installed, maintained and monitored by professional and qualified persons who meet the expectations of the public and public safety agencies that respond to alarm signals. However, there is no consistency or conformity in licensing requirements for the electronic and life safety industry. Licensing in most states, where licensing does exist, often do not reflect the rapid advances in technology that has occurred in the last decade. And, many regulatory boards are unable to adapt to these changes without enabling legislation.
There are two extremes in electronic security and life safety licensing in the United States. Some states have no statewide licensing, while others have requirements that demand the same level of training, education and experience required of high voltage electricians. Most other states have a blend of requirements that fall between those extremes.
Many state legislatures and Congress are reviewing occupational licensing requirements for a host of trades and professions, in part due to a 2015 Supreme Court decision, North Carolina State Board of Dental Examiners v. Federal Trade Commission (574 US ___), which ruled that occupational licensing boards composed of practitioners who participate in the industry they regulate have no immunity from antitrust violations unless their regulatory board is “actively supervised” by the state. The Supreme Court left open how this “active supervision” was to be accomplished, but Congress has proposed means to that end through legislation known as the Restoring Board Immunity Act (RBI Act), H.R. 3446/S. 1649.
The U.S. Congress is also concerned with occupational licensing for trades that should not be licensed or that have widely disparate licensing requirements that inhibits economic opportunities for military and low-income families that wish to move across state lines. Examples brought up in congressional hearings indicate that there is bi-partisan support for occupational licensing that is as least restrictive as possible, meets the skills needed for the occupation and exists only where there is a need for licensing to protect the health and safety of consumers.