By John Chwat, ESA, Director of Government Relations
During ESA's Day on Capitol Hill event held last month, ESA Members advocated on behalf of the electronic security and life safety industry with their elected representatives in Congress. One of the key issues presented by the attendees during their congressional visits was simultaneously being deliberated on and voted out of a key committee. H.R. 2353 – the “Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act” was heard and passed out of the House Education and the Workforce Committee on May 17th. This bill would re-authorize the “Perkins Act” to support Career and Technical Education (CTE) – an initiative supported by ESA.
H.R. 2353 would provide over $7 billion for the next six (6) years to support workforce development in high skill, high demand jobs — including those in the electronic security and life safety industry — where thousands of positions are expected to open over the next few years.
ESA is also monitoring a recently filed Bill in the US Senate by Senator John Thune (R-SD), S.1144, titled the “INVEST Act of 2017.” This bill includes an amendment to the Internal Revenue Code that would allow full expensing of “…fire protection and alarm systems” and “security systems” in the tax year these systems are placed into service. The bill also raises the limits of deductible expenses within this section from $500,000 to $2 million. Similar bills supporting Section 179 deductions for fire sprinkler systems do not currently contain provisions for fire detection and alarm systems. S. 1144 contains a more inclusive definition within a broader tax bill that is supportive of small businesses.
ESA is also working hard with the industry and Congress on telecommunications policy and new technology advances that will change the way the industry will be regulated and licensed in the future. During the Day on Capitol Hill, ESA members met with offices that will have a significant impact on how these policies will evolve.
Among the House, Senate and congressional staff that ESA members visited were: Sen. Roger Wicker(R-MS), Chairman of the Communications, Technology, Innovation and the Internet Subcommittee; Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Chair of the House Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, who also personally visited with TNESA members in her District office; Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS), Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee; Rep. Frelinghuysen (R-NJ), Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee; Speaker of the House, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI); Sen. Ron Johnson(R-WI), Chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee; Rep. Brett Guthrie (R-KY), Chairman of the Higher Education and the Workforce Subcommittee; Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) Ranking Minority Member on the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee; Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ), Ranking Minority Member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee; and Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC), Chair of the House Education and the Workforce Committee.
In all, over 100 offices were visited and contacted. The ESA will be initiating further contact at the state and local district offices of key U.S. House and Senate members over the coming months to prepare for presentations on bills and policies that impact ESA members and the industry.