Post NYBFAA open discussion forum, Article 6-E put to bed?

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Thursday, February 17, 2011

ALBANY, N.Y.—It looks as though Article 6-E has reached the end of its journey—for now.

In a Feb. 15 email interview with Security Systems News, NYBFAA executive director Dale Eller said the New York state association’s board of directors had a lot to think about after the Feb. 10 meeting at which two dozen security industry executives aired their opinions on the nascent central station licensing legislation. Eller said the board came to a decision late in the day Feb. 15.

“As of today, the board has decided to suspend any additional efforts by their lobbyist toward seeking out a sponsor for the bill,” Eller said. “They are trying to determine what other stakeholders should be polled or surveyed to ensure that everyone in and out of the association has an opportunity to be heard.”

So does that mean Article 6-E is dead? Or is there still a possibility of a revised piece of legislation appearing at a later date? SSN posed this question to Eller in a Feb. 17 interview.

“Our intention really was to kind of put this in a box with a glass cover that says: ‘Break in Case of Emergency’ … One thing the board has been very adamant about was that there was a lot of work put into this, and there’s still a lot of work that needs to go into it to get it ready for ‘What if?’” Eller said. “The industry got what it wanted. This thing is stopped right now. But the board was accused of not taking input, so they’re going to go above and beyond and talk to everyone about this and see what they think. Both proponents and opponents agreed that the actual best place for this and the place they’re looking for leadership on this is CSAA.”

Eller followed up his Feb. 15 email interview with SSN with a Feb. 16 posting on the ACCENT Listserv that spotlighted the meeting and made clear that the association would continue to poll the industry on how it feels about Article 6-E. The posting, attributed to NYBFAA president Joseph Hayes, also called some to task.

There is a “misconception that the NYBFAA was unwilling or reluctant to accept input, pro or con, on the proposed legislation. Nothing could be further from the truth, and we respectfully request those individuals perpetuating this fallacy to stop their misleading comments and postings,” Hayes said in the email. “Additionally, there are those within the industry who continue to spread misinformation regarding the original roots of Article 6E, and as recently as the weekend following the NYBFAA meeting continued to allude to some type of ridiculous conspiracy theory regarding the ‘true’ beginning to this proposed legislation, its authors and alleged hidden agendas.”

The ACCENT posting explained the legislation was created by former New York third district Sen. Brian Foley “in response to a local alarm dealer constituent’s request.” When asked if he could share the identity of the constituent, Eller demurred.

“We’ve decided we’ll let him come forward himself if he wants to,” Eller said. “There have been a lot of personal attacks involved in this, and he’s a little nervous about coming forward, not because he’s ashamed of what he did, but who wants to deal with the abuse that’s being dished out. It’s sad.”

The common theme among the numerous security industry professionals with whom SSN spoke during the interim between the Feb. 10 meeting and the NYBFAA’s Feb. 15 announcement has been trepidation.

“This has now become officially crazy … They kept saying at the meeting, ‘Well, with a little tweaking—' No! No tweaking … The amount of money involved in people flying in to attend this meeting and hotel rooms and everything else was crazy,” said Rapid Response president Jeff Atkins. “We should be working together as an industry in a synergistic fashion on issues like what’s going on in Illinois, or what’s going on with the limitations of liability clause issues in New York, not wasting resources fighting legislation no one wants.”

ADT industry liaison manager Bill Cooper said anti-6-E sentiment was prevalent at the meeting.

“I felt that the opposition to the bill was fairly obvious at the meeting,” Cooper said. “We are categorically against it and feel it has little to no redeeming features. It could be construed by some to be anti-small business, and we are concerned that the ultimate losers if this bill passes will be the consumer, because of the unnecessary added costs associated with the legislation. It also appears that the cumulative market share of those in opposition is very large, which should carry some weight.”

Doyle Security president John Doyle spoke with SSN on Feb. 10 as he was leaving the meeting in Albany.

“There was a great turnout at the meeting of members and guests. I was just pleased that they had this meeting. It was well organized and everyone got to say what they wanted to say. I feel like I was listened to and I feel it was a healthy airing of thoughts and opinions,” Doyle told SSN. “CSAA’s message about a national bill did get through at the meeting, as well, and I was pleased to see that.”

Eller, in his Feb. 15 email interview with SSN also called on CSAA to step forward.

“There was considerable discussion during and following the open forum regarding CSAA taking the lead on the development of a national alarm monitoring standard/license so that this issue need not be dealt with on a state-by-state basis,” Eller said. “It is unclear from the guests or board members in attendance exactly where CSAA is in this process, but the NYBFAA is planning on discussing it in greater detail with the CSAA leadership.”

CSAA president Ed Bonifas, in an earlier interview with SSN, stated he felt a national licensing push was the answer to the burden created by state-by-state licensing. He still feels focusing on a federal license rather than on state-by-state initiatives is the way to go.

“We are prepared to take this up and we will be communicating with the industry as we move forward,” Bonifas told SSN. “The solid plan is that the AICC—the membership committee that handles the industry’s lobbying in Congress and with the FCC—has been delegated with studying this and coming up with a plan that has a chance of working … I think we’re going to measure twice and cut once. Lobbying Congress is not going to be cheap, and we need consensus.”

Eller said the efforts of the NYBFAA and the Article 6-E Review Committee could benefit the monitoring industry’s association as it picked up the reins.

“What’s going to happen next is that the board is going to poll the industry and collect all the information and all the comments,” Eller said. “We’ll package all of that together and deliver it to CSAA and say, we got all this information from all the demographics so you can take this to the next step at the national level.”

Security Systems News will continue to report on Article 6-E and any national initiative as developments arise.