Legislative and Regulatory Issues to Watch in 2022
The last several years have been anything but “normal” in terms of legislative issues that loomed large for electronic security and life safety businesses. From horrific school shootings to a virus that virtually halted the US economy, legislative priorities will certainly flow with the issues that are at the ‘top of mind’ with people.
As we begin 2022 with the promise of some variation of “normal” on the horizon (notwithstanding an onslaught of vaccine or immunity resistant variants of COVID), there are some notable legislative trends that electronic security and life safety businesses should expect to see.
Wage & Hour
As inflation continues, we expect to see a sharp increase in legislation at all levels of government to increase the minimum wage. This of course not only impacts the workers at the lower wage scales, but it will force employers to proportionately increase the wages of all other workers, which will put further pressure on pricing to consumers. Workforce participation levels are still below 2019 (pre-pandemic) levels, so wages are dramatically higher anyway because of natural supply and demand forces (for labor).
Paid leave legislation was rampant during the height of the pandemic as legislators wanted to provide state-level assurances that employees could take paid leave for themselves or their families. This legislative trend was evident before COVID and we are now seeing a resurgence of bills that provide widely available and generous paid leave for employees. In some cases, this paid leave would apply to all employers who have one or more employees.
Limited Energy/Low Voltage Licensing
Maryland and the City of Houston are the two most recent examples where electrical contractors and unions have made serious efforts to control the licensing requirements of limited energy and low voltage integrators. Unfortunately, they will not be the last as electrical contractors continue to feel the threat to their traditional scope of work model. Power over Ethernet (PoE) is changing the way lighting, sound, communication, video, access control, and a host of other powered products are used. This is a serious threat wherever it emerges, and we stand ready to confront it.
Public Works Contracts and Project Labor Agreements
Some states and the federal government (under the current administration) will continue their push for labor union-friendly rules regarding public works contracts and project labor agreements. These bills are generally designed to shut out any merit-based contractors from participating in the bidding process for state or federal construction projects. These rules ignore the competitive spirit that should drive all public works projects.
Election Year Curve Balls
Since 2022 is considered a “mid-term” election year, we expect to see many federal bills being introduced that are designed to get members of Congress re-elected. What these bills would do depends entirely on the political demographic of the bill sponsors. We expect progressive members of Congress will push for more progressive issues like expanding worker empowerment and higher corporate accountability in the workplace. What bills get traction and move would be virtually impossible to predict with the very tenuous majority Democrats have in the Senate. The 2022 elections will make that dynamic even more interesting to watch.