CSAA considers nationwide licensing bill

Bill would make licensure process less of a financial and logistical hassle for central stations
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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

VIENNA, Va.—Concerned about the burden of inconsistent licensing across state lines, the Central Station Alarm Association's Contract Monitoring Council is measuring industry attitudes toward a bill that would seek to address several licensing-related challenges.

Through a recently deployed survey, the organization is hoping to determine the level of support for the “Alarm Monitoring Model Licensing Act,” a bill that aims to ensure that monitoring organizations doing business in multiple states can operate “with sound and consistent licensing standards”

Bill Singer, CSAA’s representative on Capitol Hill, said the bill isn’t about doing away with existing regulations.

“It’s about whether you have a regulatory scheme that you can comply with that isn’t overly burdensome to providers,” he said.

Part of that effort involves minimizing the burden of “duplicative licensure,” or, in other words, requirements across states that differ in detail but not in essence. Requirements even vary in certain cities that have licensures, Singer noted. For monitoring companies, this can mean dispatchers have to repeatedly supply fingerprint cards and background checks, creating logistical and financial burdens.

The biggest state-to-state variations, Singer said, have to do with legal status for who is eligible to work as a dispatcher. Some states, for instance, require those dismissed from the military or ex-felons to have a clean record for 10 years, while others have less stringent work eligibility requirements in place, he said.

The point of the bill, though, is not to eliminate variations, but to eliminate the extraneous costs monitoring companies incur by having to comply with them all.

“What we’re saying is that if you’re going to have a rule, then what you need to do is meet the rule some place, and have that license honored,” Singer said.

The status quo, he added, is out of sync with the evolution of central station monitoring.

“The reality is, virtually all these companies are doing monitoring remotely, and they’re never going to step foot in the state,” Singer said. “It’s telecommunications, it’s interstate commerce. We don’t tell people they can’t do something across state lines.”

In a news release announcing the deployment of the survey, the CSAA noted that, in many cases, the training and testing requirements for monitoring personnel are “not even relevant to the tasks that they perform on a daily basis.”

The CSAA’s pursuit of the agenda, Singer said, will depend on whether “the members and companies involved in this see it as a big enough issue that they’re willing to put time, effort and resources into making this a success.”