Georgia Bill Shows What Can Be Accomplished with Coalitions
ESA participates in several coalitions on the advocacy and public affairs front. We participate in a connected technology coalition that includes several limited energy associations and large national corporations that work to protect the limited energy segment within the National Electric Code. This coalition has worked for over a year on common legislative interests in states like Maryland, Massachusetts, Oklahoma and Texas among other states. We also participate in a coalition of organizations that seek to protect the integrity of facial recognition and other biometric technology, which is often maligned by special interest groups that do not understand the technology and perpetuate the fear based on anecdotes, usually from authoritarian countries.
Coalitions like those above can originate at any level – local, state, or national. It is one such coalition in Georgia that serves as a reminder of the value they can have, even if informal and serving a limited purpose. It began with ADT working with a state legislator to get HB 465 filed. It then rolled from there to include Comcast, ESA, the Georgia Electronic Life Safety & Systems Association (GELSSA) and volunteer leaders like John Loud, LOUD Security Systems, who also serves as Vice President on the ESA Board of Directors. The need for a bill like HB 465 was not like most states that have passed similar legislation, preempting local governments from fining alarm companies for false alarms. Fining alarm companies was actually happening in Georgia – in Sandy Springs, and then in Brookhaven. The need was acute. Litigation to stop Sandy Springs was not successful, because – in short – the due process rights for people do not necessarily apply for businesses.
This coalition involved multiple interactions over the phone, on Zoom, in committee hearings, in emails and in a grassroots campaign asking members to write their Senators hearing the bill. The real work was almost always behind the scenes, as is the way for virtually all state and federal legislation. It is what I euphemistically refer to as the sausage making of legislation – And sometimes it works!
Coalitions do take effort. They take a commitment to follow through, a commitment of time and a spirit of compromise. But they are worth the effort to protect the business model under assault. Most businesses do not think about the laws or regulations that protect them, which is natural. People tend to think more about the pain points.
We spend a lot of time researching, writing, and responding to legislative threats – the pain points. I am pleased when effort is expended to create legislative opportunities for our industry. Congratulations to all who worked to get HB 465 to the Governor.