NSCA is hearing a good deal of questions regarding its legislative agenda. The electronic systems industry is at a critical point where we must quit fighting for turf among ourselves and start protecting our ever-expanding role in the construction industry from some very big outside forces. Unfortunately, we’re forced to spend more time setting the record straight as to what NSCA is trying to accomplish across the country. NSCA is, first, foremost and forever, a trade association that exists for the benefit of, and at the leisure of, our industry. It is our job to accept industry funds and reinvest them for the industry’s benefit.
NSCA’s legislative agenda is simple. We work for the betterment of the industry both in the legislative and regulatory arena. We actively pursue opportunities for industry awareness among legislators and we protect our members’ interests when they are threatened.
While NSCA is actively involved in supporting the industry across the country, misinformation has arisen specifically in two states: Nebraska and New Hampshire.
The misinformation surrounding NSCA’s position in the state of Nebraska refers to Nebraska Legislative Resolution 344. This legislation reads, in its entirety:
- “To examine matters relating to the licensing and regulating of electronic systems technicians.”
- “That the general affairs committee of the legislature shall be designated to conduct an interim study to carry out the purpose of this resolution”
- "That the committee shall upon the conclusion of its study make a report of its findings, together with its recommendations, to the Legislative Council or Legislature”
As you can see, this legislation did not attempt to mandate the licensure of electronic systems technicians or any one specific certification program. It did not give anyone a competitive advantage. It did not ignore any aspect of the industry or eliminate any industry representation on a board. It did not create a board. It did not create anything. This legislation discusses no industry or association involvement and is simply a legislative study bill.
This is a far cry from what others see as anyone’s attempt at “lobbying states to base state licensure upon [EST].” Rather, this could have been an opportunity to carve out a fair licensure process for our members—a license that accurately reflects what we all do. It’s an opportunity for all certifications, for all associations, to work together to create an accurate, positive industry license.
Further, NSCA was not, as others would have you believe, directly involved in this legislative effort. We did however support it. We applaud CEDIA’s efforts and with regards to the disclosure CEDIA paid a lobbyist $8,000 in 2006, we’d also like to point out others who paid Nebraska lobbyists during the same time:
- Nebraska Cable Communications Association paid lobbyists $34,799
- Cox Nebraska TelCom paid lobbyists $14,307
- Nebraska Chapter of the Associated General Contractors of America paid lobbyists $40,615
- And NECA paid lobbyists $6500.
The misinformation regarding New Hampshire would have you believe NSCA and others attempted to “implement mandatory EST licensing.” NSCA’s legislative efforts in New Hampshire surrounded establishing a voluntary certification program for electronic systems technicians administered by the joint board of professional engineers, architects, land surveyors, foresters, professional geologists, and natural scientists. The title of the legislation read as follows:
“AN ACT relative to voluntary certification of electronic systems technicians”
There was no attempt at licensure in this effort, nor were NSCA or others in the industry members of any administering board. They were, in fact, part of an advisory committee established to assist the board on voluntary certification of Electronic Systems Technicians. There was no attempt to mandate the licensure of electronic systems technicians. Further, our objective was not to mandate any one particular certification, rather embrace all certifications that address the work that our members do.
Let me stress, NSCA supports the federally-recognized occupation of Electronic Systems Technician and believe this occupation is central to our growth plan for the industry, just as the electrician is central to the electrical industry. NSCA will continue to support this occupation as will other prominent not-for-profit trade associations across the industry. However, we have not looked to mandate any one specific certification as part of any state licensure.
Finally, it was said of the legislation in Nebraska: “In Lincoln it was obvious that there is no salient public policy justification for studying or implementing mandatory EST licensing or state certification programs.”
Conversely, NSCA believes there is monumental justification for studying these issues in the legislature and believes the opportunity goes well beyond Lincoln, Nebraska. For example, in February, in Des Moines, Iowa, NSCA and CEDIA were the only two associations fighting in person against IA HSB 700: Statewide Licensure of Electricians and Installers before the Iowa House State Government Committee.
HSB 700’s language over-generalized the scope of a newly established board. This over-generalization could be interpreted as allowing board jurisdiction to regulate the electronic systems industry. As we’ve seen elsewhere, this could lead to our members in Iowa being licensed by a board of electricians with no representation from our industry.
Every year, NSCA works in Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, California, New York, Iowa and numerous other states to fight similar legislation or regulation. State capitols do not understand what our members do and often equate us to electricians. Our efforts at voluntary certifications and legislative study bills help legislators understand what we do. Voluntary certifications and legislative study bills would be feeble attempts to force one specific certification upon anyone and it is not what NSCA is looking to accomplish.
NSCA looks to the future and finds ways to work together on legislative ideas. However, the industry need not be worried about “smoke and mirrors”; the industry needs to focus on established truths. NSCA understands the legislative process. Over-simplifying Nebraska’s legislative structure by saying, “it’s unicameral, so it’s easier to get things passed” disregards Nebraska’s rich legislative history. Arguing there’s no “salient public policy justification” for our industry to try to raise the bar and protect our interests against outside forces disregards what we’ve seen happen across the country. If every NSCA member in every state is comfortable with how they are licensed, this argument would be valid and my department will promptly change its focus. However, until that time, NSCA will continue to work toward betterment of the industry. We welcome participation in this effort. We will continue to leave the door open for all who wish to join us. Not to push an agenda that benefits a particular association, but, like the legislative efforts illustrated above, an agenda that helps us all.