Occupational licensing that comports with the skillsets needed for specific occupations and serves to protect the health, safety and welfare of consumers is a public good. The electronic security and life safety industry is widely regulated in local and state governments because it is deemed to be in the public interest for alarm and life safety systems to be installed, maintained and monitored by professional and qualified persons who meet the expectations of the public and public safety agencies that respond to alarm signals. However, there is no consistency or conformity in licensing requirements for the electronic and life safety industry. Licensing in most states, where licensing does exist, often do not reflect the rapid advances in technology that has occurred in the last decade. And, many regulatory boards are unable to adapt to these changes without enabling legislation.
There are two extremes in electronic security and life safety licensing in the United States. Some states have no statewide licensing, while others have requirements that demand the same level of training, education and experience required of high voltage electricians. Most other states have a blend of requirements that fall between those extremes.
Many state legislatures and Congress are reviewing occupational licensing requirements for a host of trades and professions, in part due to a 2015 Supreme Court decision, North Carolina State Board of Dental Examiners v. Federal Trade Commission (574 US ___), which ruled that occupational licensing boards composed of practitioners who participate in the industry they regulate have no immunity from antitrust violations unless their regulatory board is “actively supervised” by the state. The Supreme Court left open how this “active supervision” was to be accomplished, but Congress has proposed means to that end through legislation known as the Restoring Board Immunity Act (RBI Act), H.R. 3446/S. 1649.
The U.S. Congress is also concerned with occupational licensing for trades that should not be licensed or that have widely disparate licensing requirements that inhibits economic opportunities for military and low-income families that wish to move across state lines. Examples brought up in congressional hearings indicate that there is bi-partisan support for occupational licensing that is as least restrictive as possible, meets the skills needed for the occupation and exists only where there is a need for licensing to protect the health and safety of consumers.
ESA supports licensing that fits the skillsets needed for low-voltage intrusion, life safety and integrated systems.
There are a wide range of skillsets needed for electronic security and life safety systems depending on the type of system installed, i.e. residential intrusion, commercial fire, etc. With new technologies, completely wireless systems for residential intrusion systems are becoming more common and the skillsets needed are naturally quite different for these systems than those required for commercial fire systems. Occupational licensing requirements should recognize and account for the differences in skillsets needed and provide regulatory boards with the ability to adapt to changing technology.
ESA supports uniform licensing and reciprocal endorsements for licenses across state lines.
A major concern that has bi-partisan support in Congress is workforce development. Disparate licensing requirements inhibit economic development and hurt military families that move from state to state when military spouses are unable to transfer their qualifications in one state to another state. States with growing economies and workforce shortages hurt their own economic development and workforce needs when they have licensing requirements that are onerous or not reflective of the skillsets needed. They also risk antitrust action if the requirements are deemed to be anti-competitive and designed to limit competition within the state. With consistent licensing requirements and reciprocal endorsement provisions, states can benefit with economic growth and a qualified workforce can migrate to high demand regions for better career opportunities.
ESA supports uniform criminal background check requirements and reciprocity
For the electronic security and life safety industry to have public confidence in its products and services, the public should know that all persons with access to proprietary information have been properly vetted and are free from any disqualifying criminal offense. ESA also supports federal criminal background check requirements that are reciprocally accepted among all states that maintain criminal background check requirements. Many personnel work across state lines and lack of reciprocity creates needless and repetitive criminal history checks.
ESA created Model Licensing Language that provides states with an interest in updating obsolete licensing language or otherwise creating licensing that comports with best practices and standards for the electronic security and life safety industry. This language was developed with a task force of industry experts with extensive experience in licensing across all states and many local jurisdictions. Any interested party in obtaining this model language may click here.