Why The Security Leaders Forum Was a Huge Success
Back in early March 2023, members from Electronic Security Association (ESA) and The Monitoring Association (TMA) joined Security Industry Association (SIA) to hold the first ever Security Leaders Forum. This event, like a “Fly-in” or “Hill walk”, was filled with influential leaders both in and out of Congress and served to benefit our industry.
Opening the program was Neil Bradley from the US Chamber of Commerce, and Kevin McAleenan, former Acting Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. Both speakers were able to discuss the challenges that lay before the current 118th Congress and the Biden administration. There will be gridlock as many expected, but there is also the potential to get some important work accomplished.
One key legislative goal of the group was to see a school safety bill move. Thankfully, we had the opportunity to hear from Congressman Burgess Owens (UT-4) over a breakfast meeting at the Capitol Hill Club on Day 2. The Congressman has recently introduced a bill (HR. 887 Securing Our Students Act) that would allow schools to utilize Covid relief money for school safety as well. Nearly 75% of the money granted to schools is still waiting to be spent and we hope Congress can see the benefit in allowing that money to go to the protection of our nation’s children. Leaders Forum
We were also able to hear from additional members of Congress and important staffers, including one who works for Speaker McCarthy. All the speakers were glad we were there to discuss the important issues of school safety, data privacy, and workforce development.
Following a fantastic breakfast program, members took to the Hill to speak with their members of Congress and their staff. I was able to sit in on 6 meetings and was impressed with how our members educated so many about our industry. It also reinforces the importance of these types of events. Many of the staffers simply heard the word “security” but had no idea about the sort of industry knowledge we would be bringing to them. Hopefully, we can serve as a resource to them moving forward. Leaders Forum
So, was the trip a success? I think the answer is a resounding yes! In meeting with Senator Klobuchar’s (MN) staffer, we were able to get the commitment that she would reintroduce the “Freedom to Invest in Tomorrows Workforce Act”. This legislation would expand eligible uses for 529 plans to cover costs to obtain and maintain certifications and other credentials, versus traditional degree programs only. The next day we saw S 722 introduced. Additionally, Senator Cruz joined us at the Wednesday evening reception and, once informed he’d have the backing of the 3 associations present, committed to re-introduce his school safety bills that he pushed last year. On March 30, he introduced S. 1082 and S. 1081, making good on his commitment.
It is so important for our members to be involved in this government advocacy work. If our lawmakers in the states and DC don’t hear from us, then they don’t know what we need from them. I hope you can join us for next year’s Security Leaders Forum to help us to build that influence even more. Leaders Forum