Legislative Report September 2021
Here are highlights of legislative activity that could impact the electronic security and life safety industry.
Federal Legislative Summary – September 2021
Congress continues to wrangle over infrastructure, reconciliation, debt ceiling and how to deal with the economy facing supply chain shortages (and the inflation that results). No doubt this is something felt by ESA members across the country. But the most common pain point for everyone is the shortage in available skilled labor. The labor shortage is not unique to our industry. It impacts the spectrum of all trades and there is no immediate relief in sight. Closing the skills gap will be one of the greatest challenges for Congress in the years to come. Unfortunately, we see nothing in current bills that will do anything other than throw money at concepts, flow-down grants, and incremental changes to priorities.
Congress does not generally solve problems. It directs money to states and agencies to facilitate policy direction on the issues of the day, but results are usually slow in coming, if ever. COVID, like other economic calamities spur more immediate relief from Congress, but issues like the “skills gap” will not be solved with a single bill or group of bills. And they will not be solved quickly. The only bill that highlights what I am discussing in September is H.R. 5252, the “Connecting Students to Great Jobs Act”. Very simply, this bill would amend the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act to award competitive grants for the purpose of developing educational or career pathway programs for workers. It is a laudable idea and will certainly provide some benefit for displaced or new entries into the labor market, but it will not close the skills gap.
State Legislative Summary – September 2021
Massachusetts began scheduling hearings on dormant bills in September. There are eleven (11) such measures scheduled for hearings in the state that cover several issues areas we are watching. If you have a footprint in this state, you will want to review these bills.
The Delaware Governor signed three (3) bills we are watching in September. The new law with the most potential impact on ESA member companies is SB 184. This legislation was enacted and included a Senate Substitute (SS1 for SB 48), which required that contractors bidding for large public works contracts provide craft training of apprentices and journeymen. As enacted by SS 1 for SB 48, contractors can satisfy this craft training requirement by providing the craft training themselves or through agreement with other organizations. A contractor can satisfy the craft training requirement by doing any of the following for each craft in the contract for which craft training is required:
- Having at least 1 active apprentice in a craft training program approved by and registered with any state apprenticeship agency or the United States Department of Labor for the duration of the project.
- Having at least 1 active apprentice who completes an approved and registered craft training program within the 6 months before the contract was executed.
- Making a payment for the craft into a new Apprenticeship and Training Fund.
This bill is reminiscent of a New Jersey bill passed a couple years ago that essentially required all public works contractors to send their employees through state recognized apprenticeship programs. The New Jersey bill is being challenged in court. This bill attempts to rectify some of the more onerous provisions in the New Jersey law and seems to be seeking a way to avoid a lawsuit in that state.
Michigan filed a series of related bills that would essentially require employers with 50 or more employees to provide four (4) weeks of paid parental leave for a newborn or adopted child.