Whether integration firms and their employees know it or not, they rely on NSCA to be aware of and fight against legislative issues that threaten to negatively impact their businesses and the industry. During NSCA’s 21st annual Business & Leadership Conference (BLC), NSCA stated a position that several pieces of proposed legislation could be devastating to the integration industry.
Prior to BLC, NSCA executive director Chuck Wilson made it clear that he wanted all attendees to be at the NSCA Member Meeting during the event so they can approve NSCA’s efforts to move forward fighting against proposed regulations.
Here’s what you need to know.
Cluster of 2019 Proposed Regulations Snuck Up on NSCA
“We didn’t even realize that there was going to be so much pressure from the base in industries to take a look at our industry and try to confine what we’re doing to everything below a certain level,” Wilson said at the meeting.
NSCA reacted by creating a position statement that it distributed to every BLC attendee. Wilson also brought it up before several keynote presentations.
Integrators’ Licensure Is Under Attack
NSCA is fighting over 100 regulation changes that Wilson says would affect integration firms’ permitting processes.
“When we got into the first week in January, we had no idea that there was going to be one licensure bill after the other,” Wilson said. “Now we’ve got something like 130 different bills that we’re tracking in 35 different states that are trying to either change our licensure requirements or exemption to a license, or they’re trying to deregulate in one state and to get rid of all of the licenses entirely.”
NSCA’s Board of Directors Approved the Position Statement
Just before BLC kicked off, NSCA Board Members met and approved the position statement document, “Confronting Challenge and Creating Clarity,” that was distributed to all attendees. It includes NSCA’s entire 2019 legislative agenda and all its position statements.
NSCA Will Monitor Legislation, Participate in Licensure Oversight
A big part of NSCA’s declaration is that it wants its members to back up the need for somebody from NSCA to serve on rule-making committees or licensure boards in any states where relevant legislation is discussed or pending.
What Specifically Is NSCA Battling?
Wilson told the BLC audience that NSCA wants to defend integrators’ position to do all systems within the master format, division 27 and 28. “As you recall, back in 2004 we worked really, really hard to get all of the technology we provide out of Division 16, out from underneath the electrical division and created our own divisions. With that, our move this year has to be to defend that work.”
Wilson added that many of the new issues relate to power over Ethernet and LED lighting. “We are in a battle right now with the organizations that are for electrical contractors, for the IT industry, for the groups like AT&T, DirecTV and others,” he said “We’re battling with their lobbyists in certain states to make sure that they don’t disrupt what we’re doing within those divisions.”
On the horizon, he said, will be a big battle over 5G. “We’re starting to see those larger organizations trying to posture themselves to be ready to have 5G as part of their scope of work that they could be doing within doing distributed antenna systems and so forth. What we’re trying to do is to make sure we don’t get edged out of doing that work.”
Utah Serves as an Example, Warning for Integrators
At one point during the NSCA Member Meeting, GENCOMM president Ingolf de Jong shared an example of an important legislative battle in the state of Utah.
“We were notified that there were some things going on with the electrical board,” he says. “Basically they were looking to eliminate all reference to sections 7-25, 7-16 and Article 800 in the National Electrical Code, which deals with low voltage. [Also] redefining low voltage as 50 volts or less. Additionally, they were looking to pass a law that would make a requirement to have five journeymen electricians on staff for each unskilled laborer now.”
De Jong pointed out that under the legislatiion’s definition of “journeyman,” not a single NSCA member in the room would qualify. “It was extremely egregious as to what they were trying to pass. With the help of NSCA and also CEDIA, we were able to get with a bunch of people in our area and hire a lobbyist and basically are aggressively working to stop all that stuff. It looks like we’re going to be successful, but it’s taken a very concerted effort.”
Wilson emphasized that there are similar battles in many different states.
NSCA Wants the Industry’s Support
Wilson acknowledged that the fury of legislative activity has “been causing us to work 12-hour days just reading pieces of legislation one after the other after the other.” However, he said “it’s something that we have to do as an industry to unify and to come together to make sure we’re all at the same line about how we want to deal with this stuff.”
NSCA embraces its role in fighting against these regulations. However, “When I’m in Washington, or wherever, talking about what kind of things we need as an industry, I want to look behind me and have this entire room right there behind me supporting all this.”
NSCA’s Motion Was Approved
Wilson asked for a motion from the floor to adopt in its entirely the “Confronting Challenge and Creating Clarity” position statement document. He got it. It was seconded, and seemingly unanimously approved.