Proposed New York legislation causes major stir

Proponents and opponents urged to attend open hearing to make their voices heard
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Thursday, January 20, 2011

ALBANY, N.Y.—Proposed legislation being developed by an alarm association committee here has created such a stir that the New York Burglar & Fire Alarm Association has decided to conduct an open forum discussion at its Feb. 10 board of directors meeting.

The legislation in question, called Article 6-E, would require licensing of central station employees of any central station wishing to monitor alarms in the state of New York.

“While the NYBFAA took numerous steps to alert the membership throughout the State of N.Y., it has become apparent that those in opposition to such legislation felt excluded from the board’s deliberations,” NYBFAA executive director Dale Eller said in an open letter to the ACCENT listserv. “Let me assure everyone that it has always been the intention of the association to seek input and comments from anyone (pro or con) regarding this proposed legislation.”

Security Systems News first covered this developing story in December when vocal opponent Bart Didden of USA Central Station began alerting ACCENT listserv members of the effort and the potential problems he saw. Specifically, Didden believes such legislation would kill competition from large in-state and out-of-state competitors.

On the other hand, Article 6-E’s primary proponent, CIA Security president John Lombardi, who is heading up the Article 6-E Review Committee, believes the legislation would ease interstate licensing reciprocity, something he believes would be a boon to monitoring centers wanting to monitor in multiple states.

Since SSN initially broke the story, others have begun voicing their concerns, claiming the legislation, if passed into law, could make monitoring in the state of New York prohibitively expensive for large, multi-site, redundant monitoring centers.

“What you have now is a committee that believes in what it’s created and thinks it’s a good thing for companies in New York and for the industry. The question is, is it necessary?” said Russ MacDonnell, CEO of Rapid Response, which is based in Syracuse, N.Y. “The central station industry has evolved enormously over the last 25 years … We already do everything that’s in there times two … Technology has gotten to the point where central stations are covering wide, wide areas. More are national now … When you start piling up these licenses state-by-state, it’s incredibly burdensome to companies that try and operate between states.”

Various voices on the ACCENT listserv have called out for guidance from the central station industry’s association, the Central Station Alarm Association. MacDonnell also said he felt the CSAA, which has so far remained neutral, needed to take a position.

CSAA president Ed Bonifas agrees state licensing requirements are a concern for any monitoring center, but defended the association’s need to remain neutral on a state level.

“The issue of conflicting state licensing requirements is a big issue. I don’t want to minimize that … It’s a serious problem that makes national monitoring almost impossible,” Bonifas said. “My argument is that the problem can’t be solved in New York. It may make sense not to perpetrate the problem in New York, but that’s one of 50 states. It’s only two percent of the problem. If you kill the issue in New York, altogether, you’ve still got 49 other states to contend with.”

Mace CSSS director of central station operations Morgan Hertel conducted a poll over the ACCENT listserv to see who was in favor of and who opposed to the legislation. Hertel told Security Systems News that of 59 responses, 86.9 percent are opposed to Article 6-E. However, an almost equal number, 84.9 percent, are in favor of federal licensing.

Bonifas said to battle the problem in any particular state would waste resources and keep the problem on a state-by-state basis when the real solution, he feels, is to be found in federal regulation.

“When legitimate practitioners in a business—like the central station monitoring business—have a difference of opinion, probably the association needs to watch and not lead. The state needs to build consensus.” Bonifas said. “That being said, the broader issue is a national bill, the idea for which [former Vector president] John Murphy put forward years ago. He proposed an idea for federal legislation creating an alarm-monitoring standard by which states could evaluate us. And if you met that standard you would be allowed to monitor in 50 states.”

Bonifas encouraged interested parties to get involved in the CSAA’s Long Range Planning Committee Meeting to try and build momentum for a national licensing initiative through the Alarm Industry Communications Committee. The Long Range Planning Committee Meeting is scheduled to take place in Key West Jan. 27-29.

Doyle Security president John Doyle is also opposed to Article 6-E, and has been voicing his opinion to the Article 6-E review committee since October of last year, he said.

“This legislation is a bad idea because there is no public need for this law whatsoever. The only purpose for licensing laws is to provide protection for consumers. There is no evidence of any kind that consumers are being harmed by central stations,” Doyle told Security Systems News. “Licensing laws add bureaucracy and cost to society. In this case, the proposed law would add cost to central station alarm companies, which would have to be passed on to customers with no return.”

Doyle Security is a full-service security company that has been providing commercial, residential and medical alarm systems, CCTV, access control and safe and lock services and products in New York since 1919. Doyle owns and operates its own Five-Diamond certified, U.L.-listed central station, Doyle Emergency Response Center.

The NYBFAA requests interested attendees of the Feb. 10 meeting RSVP so they can be added to the meeting agenda. Anyone wishing to express an opinion on Article 6-E, but who is unable to attend on Feb. 10 can submit written comments for the board of directors via mail (New York Burglar & Fire Alarm Association, 234 Hudson Avenue, PMB 9401, Albany, NY 12210), email (Info@NYBFA.org), or fax (814-838-5127) no later than Feb. 3. The meeting will take place at ADI’s Albany, N.Y. location.

 

Comments

The State is looking for revenue they do not care about the consumer. This bill will only drive up cost to us and our customers. I already pay to do business in New York. State licensing is revenue generating tool for the state it does not protect the consumer and has not stopped the trunk slammers or anybody with a screwdriver from installing equipment that they buy on line.

<p>Thank you for the comment, Steven. This is certainly a big issue and one upon which many have come forward to voice opinions. Thank you for getting involved and furthering the debate.</p>