NSCA: We Are Under Attack By Proposed Legislation and You Must Act

A cluster of regulatory legislation that could negatively affect the integration business is on the docket. During its annual NSCA Member Meeting at the 2019 Business & Leadership Conference, the trade organization will ask integrators to step up.

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NSCA: We Are Under Attack By Proposed Legislation and You Must Act

This is not a drill, says NSCA executive director Chuck Wilson. In 2019, there are several licensure bills and regulatory legislation in multiple key states poised to negatively affect integration firms’ businesses. The trade organization is fighting tirelessly, but during the annual NSCA Member Meeting at the 21st annual Business & Leadership Conference AV integrators will be asked to get involved.

Wilson describes proposed legislation and bills that have been introduced “that would change the dynamics of our licensure.”

The most impactful of the 70-plus bills that NSCA is tracking and monitoring so far in 2019 would hit Arizona, Florida, Idaho, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Texas, and Utah.

Wilson is quick to point out that even AV integrators that don’t work in those geographic areas might be called upon by customers expanding to those states and, therefore, will be affected.

NSCA is requesting that a representative from each member company be present to weigh in and vote on a series of resolutions that will decide NSCA’s direction and course of action for many of these bills.

“It’s dotted all over the country where adjacent industries – people not in our industry – have gone in and talked with lawmakers over the recess about introducing legislation that is changing how we’re defined in terms of our exemptions to the electrical licenses or in terms of a particular chapter within the National Electrical Code that would exclude us from doing certain things.”

Wilson says he can’t recall a time when the integration industry was facing this much in terms of pending, business-altering regulations.

“We decided to elevate,” Wilson says, referring to a call to get more NSCA members involved with helping the trade organization lobby on behalf of the integration industry.

“We’re working 24/7 on this right now, and we’re trying to get members to understand that if they intend to do business in this state or that state they’ve got to be keenly aware of which version of the National Electrical Code defines the implementation of their systems and to make sure that the technology that they’re putting in doesn’t surpass the code making and code monitoring approvals.”

Related: How to Comply with Small Business Regulations Affecting Integrators

As such, the NSCA Member Meeting on March 1 in Tampa, Fla., during the Business & Leadership Conference takes on heightened importance.

NSCA is requesting that a representative from each member company be present to weigh in and vote on a series of resolutions that will decide NSCA’s direction and course of action for many of these bills.

“NSCA has extensive knowledge and experience when it comes to regulation and the laws that effect the work that we can do for our customers,” says Timiothy Hennen, CTO for Hauppauge, N.Y.-based NSCA member IVCi.

He says that his company leans on NSCA to stay up to date on latest regulatory changes and risks. “From there, we can get involved and support the effort in the markets that we are focused on.”

In a blog post leading up to BLC and the annual Member Meeting, NSCA details some of the proposed regulations that may be particularly relevant to integration firms.

NSCA includes a partial list of 2019 bills that could affect AV integrators:

  • Arizona: HB 2181 — Registrar of contractors; licensing; exemption.
  • Florida: SB 604 — A bill to be entitled an act relating to registered contractor licensing; amending S 489.514, FS; extending the date by which an applicant must apply for a license to be grandfathered; providing an effective date.
  • Hawaii: SB 423 — Clarifies that a specialty contractor, acting as subcontractor, isn’t prohibited from taking and executing a construction contract involving two or more crafts or trades if the performance of the work is incidental and supplemental.
  • Idaho: SB 1009 —  Electrical contractors and journeymen – amends existing law to provide for licensure of electrical installers.
  • Maryland: HB 702 and HB 905 — Altering the purpose, composition, powers, and duties of the State Board of Master Electricians; authorizing the Board to issue apprentice licenses and journey person licenses under certain circumstances.
  • North Dakota: SB 2359 — North Dakota Century Code, relating to the regulation of electricians and power limited technicians.
  • New York: A3748 — Establishes voluntary licensure of master electricians by Department of State.
  • Oklahoma: SB 175 — Electrical License Act; modifying definition for certain class electrical circuits.
  • Oklahoma: SB 653 — Electrical Licensing Act; allowing credit for in-plant experience for contractor license.
  • Texas: HB 1141 — Relating to an exemption from licensing requirements for certain electrical work.

Wilson points out that the integration industry – even when AV, security and life safety band together – is miniscule compared to some of the lobbyist-armed adjacent industries pushing regulations forward.

That’s one reason why NSCA is relying on its members for help. That will be a big focus of the annual board meeting.

“What we’re trying to do as an organization is to unify the industry to say let’s all get together and ratify these resolutions that we’re going to put in front of people at the Board Meeting to let everybody know what NSCA’s position is on all of this,” Wilson says.

From NSCA’s perspective, this is a very clear call to action for AV integrators. If you’re not already registered to attend NSCA’s 21st annual Business & Leadership Conference (BLC) where the annual NSCA Member Meeting will take place on March 1, here’s a registration link.

About the Author

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Tom has been covering electronics integration since 2003. Prior to being named editorial director of CI, he was senior writer and managing editor of CE Pro. Before that, he wrote for the sports department of the Boston Herald. Migrating to magazines, he was a staff editor for a golf publication and an outdoor sports publication.

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Comments

  • Khari says:

    Wow Could you imagine the Electrical Trades defining who we are? Or they having control on what we can and cannot do? Or do we now need the permission of the Electrical trades to do our jobs. That’s like the plumber telling the carpenter how to their jobs without even having an idea of the scope of work. Serious developments.

  • Jeff Rodman says:

    Without more detail, this is just a scare piece. Some of these regs may be good, some bad; we need more detail.

    • Adam Forziati says:

      Hey Jeff, thanks for reading. I think the point here is that if you’re an NSCA member, you’ll have the ability to hear more and comment about these details this week at BLC.

      We certainly do have plans for continued coverage of these proposed pieces of legislation and will post more about them when more details are analyzed.

  • Philip Cartier says:

    “Proposed Legislation is SCARY for AV”
    Well, not nearly as scary as some of the dangerous, incompetent and criminally negligent work I regularly see in many AV installations, including unsafe rigging, electrical code violations and the most basic OSHA worker-safety violations. If the AV integration industry does’t get better, way better, at their work and business practices, then it will have no one to blame but itself if a governmental entity starts mandating regulatory complience. Cheap scare tactics, hyperbole and blaming the messenger is a poor substitute for cleaning up your own act.

  • Khari says:

    This is scary. Could you imagine being defined by other trades who has no idea of what we do? A serious precedent can be set.

  • Joel Bultman says:

    I would bet that many of these new proposed regulations are at least partially a knee-jerk reaction to the new 100-watt PoE standard which actually does have the potential to cause life-safety issues in the form of additional fire hazards if not installed properly. The A/V industry is sure to jump on board with high-power PoE even more than we already have due to the convenience it offers and the ever increasing convergence of A/V and IT.

    Additionally, the fact that the A/V industry has traditionally been rather bereft of legally enforceable standards (especially associated with quality of work for installations) makes it difficult for AHJs and building code governing bodies to blindly trust A/V integrators with installing systems that have a reasonable fire hazard risk. As such it makes sense that at least some of the electrical and fire code restrictions in place for power systems should now also apply to low voltage systems where increased life-safety and property damage risks are factors.

    That said, in typical bureaucratic fashion, the method lawmakers are using to implement such changes appears to be misdirected and ill-conceived. There is probably also at least a bit of lobbying from electrical contractor and electrical wiring device manufacturer special interest groups because many of them feel threatened by the shift toward using PoE to power devices, such as lights, which have historically been completely under their purview.

    I also completely agree with Philip Cartier’s sentiment about the poor quality of work that many A/V integrators have been providing. While there are a few gems out there, the number of good solid A/V installations I have seen recently is far overshadowed by the number of low quality, negligent, and sometimes even dangerous installations I have seen in the same time period. This gives the impression that either the overall competence/training level of the technicians is lacking or there is a serious lack of pride in the quality of one’s work. Neither of these possibilities inspire confidence with allowing the individuals to take responsibility for installing increasingly dangerous systems with no additional accountability.

    So, as much as I dread the possibility of the A/V industry becoming even more at the mercy of electrical contractors, I understand the need for some building code changes to increase safety through additional accountability.

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