Legislative Summary – May 2021
Here are highlights of legislative activity that could impact the electronic security and life safety industry.
Federal Legislative Summary – May 2021
While Congress continues debating dollars and scope of the next “infrastructure” bill, other issues are being introduced and moving.
H.R. 2523, titled the “THRIVE Act” was enrolled on May 28, 2021 and this bill would provide for funding of high demand job training for veterans. Funding would go through nonprofit organizations with prior experience in veteran training assistance.
Buy American bills are receiving more attention in Congress. S. 1303 would provide federal guidelines on the procurement of manufactured goods in the US by federal agencies on all infrastructure projects. S. 732 directs the President and specified federal agencies to take steps to increase transparency and limit the use of waivers of Buy American laws. Generally, Buy American requires agencies to procure domestic goods.
Congress is also engaging in occupational licensing. H.R. 3147, introduced by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) is described as a bill that will help states combat abuse of occupational licensing laws by economic incumbents, promote competition, encourage innovation, protect consumers, and facilitate the restoration of antitrust immunity to State occupational boards. This bill responds to the 2015 U.S. Supreme Court decision that requires “active supervision” of occupational licensing boards, which resulted in dozens of bills in states over the last several years that recreate occupational licensing review commissions or other forms of oversight.
Another bill in Congress, H.R. 1598, would create a federal version of “ban the box” legislation. It would tie state eligibility for grants under the Byrne JAG program to their passage of legislation that prohibits inquiring into an applicants’ criminal background until a conditional offer of employment is made.
State Legislative Summary – May 2021
It’s hard to say that legislative activity is beginning to wind down with over 180 bills in a monthly report, but this was the last full month of the legislative session in several states. While it is certain some states, like Texas, will go into special session to take care of loose ends, these are generally limited by the Governor on what issue areas he/she will consider. Other full-time legislatures will press on.
In reviewing the bills we are monitoring, it is noteworthy that 33 were enacted in May. We previously highlighted Georgia HB 465 in our April reports, but it was not signed until May 3, 2021. This was a great achievement for the alarm industry in Georgia and for all involved in pushing it through.
Another issue that is receiving attention around the country saw some success in state legislatures in May. Georgia SB 182 and Maryland HB 261 will force local governments to treat battery-charged fence security systems as alarm systems and prohibit these governments from separate permitting or licensing requirements or deny permitting for these systems that meet certain safety and construction requirements.
States are continuing to support limited immunity from liability claims related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Georgia HB 112, Nebraska LB 139, and West Virginia SB 277 join the list of states enacting this protection for businesses.
Other states are focused on worker protection related to COVID-19 or expanding support for labor union issues. Massachusetts H 3702 provides for employer paid emergency leave for workers. Oregon SB 493 establishes a prevailing wage standard for public works projects. Washington SB 5097 expands coverage under its paid family and medical leave program. And, under the banner of “what’s to come”, Washington state also enacted SB 5399, which will create a universal health care commission.
State legislatures are beginning to re-focus on other issue areas. We are seeing more bills related to workforce development and occupational licensing. Georgia SB 27, Tennessee SB 382, and Texas HB 139 provide varying levels of licensing reciprocity for military service members and their spouses.
West Virginia HB 2008 would exempt low-voltage electrical work under 80 volts from electrical licensing other than a specialty license.
A bill we watched closely and opposed as originally introduced finally did pass and was enacted, with some language we will have to assess based on how it is implemented. Maryland SB 762 is the electrical licensing bill that has been introduced for years without success. This bill was universally opposed by low-voltage groups and ESA because it contained language that would force most limited energy work under the licensing framework for electricians. The language as finally passed contains no reference to low voltage or limited energy, but it does give the licensing board direction to create rules in compliance with the National Electrical Code. This could be a beneficial reference as the limited energy industry works toward a separate licensing model that includes exempting all limited energy from electrical licensing requirements as it is defined within the NEC.