Editor’s note: This story was originally published on November 29, 2023 and has been updated as of December 2023.
NSCA is monitoring more than 400 bills on your behalf! For our relatively small industry, it seems like a lot. But stop and think about everything integrators do; our scope of work touches many different mission-critical solutions in more than a dozen markets.
Take, for example, the networks that we install and the digital endpoints that sense activity and gather data. That data is often stored in the cloud, and the information is essential to the operations of a facility. Not surprisingly, as these systems become more connected, we become more regulated.
Bearing that in mind, we must do a few key things on a regular basis within our organizations. Let’s explore them.
- We must monitor our licenses. In some states, we carry individual licenses; in others, we have a company license. It starts with whom the license holder is and, often, they need to be a majority owner in the business. We can no longer assume that we can bid on a project in a state where there is no reciprocity and expect to simply hire a licensed integrator as a subcontractor. Several states are requiring our companies to be listed as prime and use either full-time employees or preapproved outside labor resources.
- We must build the cost of licensure, registrations and permits into our projects. It’s shocking at times to see what certain municipalities are requiring for pulling a permit. That price must be determined upfront and passed through as a cost of doing business. It’s no different from knowing about prevailing wages prior to bidding.
- We must consider cybersecurity provisions and insurance. These have become more regulated as the price of ransomware and data theft have escalated. NSCA reminds all of our members to be properly insured for the type of work you do and to fill out the applications carefully and in the most honest way possible. One false statement on the checklist can result in you being all on your own for a claim against your company.
In light of all the bills we’re seeing in statehouses and at the federal level, I would keep a close eye on the following:
- Mandated apprenticeship programs led by a pro-labor legislature. We see this pendulum swing from pro-business to pro-labor on occasion. Currently, we are seeing workforce-development programs and efforts to fix talent shortages come down to bills that require entry-level workers to register in an apprenticeship program.
- Opportunities and challenges with artificial intelligence. Nothing is more elusive to lawmakers than trying to figure out if we want to slow this down or speed this up. At Pivot to Profit 2023, this topic took centerstage, giving the industry an opportunity to learn and determine the path forward.
- Turf wars involving PoE (Power over Ethernet) systems. The growth in PoE LED lighting systems, in particular, has created a turf battle between the electrical industry and the systems integration industry. State lawmakers — even municipalities — are being lobbied by various trade groups to enact regulations or licensing provisions that would make it a requirement for those doing low-voltage work to have a full-time master electrician on staff to be able to pull a permit to install a project.
The outcome of the elections next year will likely give us an indication as regards the overall climate as it relates to regulations. We will continue to monitor these outcomes on behalf of our members and keep the legislative tracking system as updated as possible.
It would be great if you could help us monitor the states that you do business in and read a few of the bills we are tracking. If you see something positive or negative, we can do an action alert and let your fellow NSCA members know what to monitor, as well.
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