Industry Legislation: Confronting Challenge and Creating Clarity
NSCA and its Board of Directors has a responsibility to you – our members – to continuously evaluate public policy and position statements.
2020 was a very unusual year for our legislative team. The overwhelming legislative agenda was focused on PPP funding, essential workforce, business continuity, and pandemic challenges.
So far, 2021 shows signs of getting back to the agenda items carried over from the start of 2020. Once again, we see a very large number of bills that either resolve or create further conflicting codes and standards that govern our sector of the industry. NSCA has monitored a much larger number of regulatory, legislative, and licensure bills introduced at the state level as compared to years prior to 2019.
The list of concerns grows even longer due to the inherent complexity of systems integration and the emerging technologies that support it, such as Power over Ethernet (PoE) and Internet of Things (IoT). Network-connected devices have now entered our scope of work and services, ranging from PoE, LED lighting, and access control systems to surveillance cameras and wireless access points. With each of these challenges comes the opportunity to drive positive change.
NSCA: Your Voice
Serving as your voice, NSCA must clearly state our industry’s position and philosophy on these regulatory, legislative, and licensure bills and seek membership approval to ensure that the vast majority of members agree to our impactful statements.
Developing and embracing NSCA’s core philosophies is done by consensus; it’s a responsibility that each member should take great pride in.
Our overall goal is to protect and defend the rights of the systems integrator as they conduct the work of a systems integrator. This includes projects and services across a multitude of locations and a diverse technical offering. We create the best possible business environment for their success and to move forward as one community and one industry: the systems integration industry.
NSCA, on behalf of the membership, shall continue to monitor legislation that impacts our industry. We will invest in resources that identify and stop legislation and regulatory actions that are harmful to systems integration businesses. We will provide alternative model legislation when permitted to position you in the best possible business climate and enable you to provide technical solutions and services that meet client expectations.
Participation in Legislation
NSCA, on behalf of the membership, shall insist upon participation in and oversight on any power limited, limited energy, low-voltage, or other form of individual or company licensure impacting systems integrators. This covers AV, life safety, communications, control, low-voltage lighting, building automation, telephony, and all other system types as defined in the current version of CSI MasterFormat Divisions 27 and 28. We will encourage compliance and educate members to the provisions and requirements of licensure that governs their employees, business, and projects.
Defending the Work of the Integrator
NSCA, on behalf of the membership, shall represent our industry by protecting and defending your ability to perform the necessary tasks and job functions in design, sales, installation, and service of all “connected devices” that impact the technology solutions within the scope of work defined in CSI MasterFormat Divisions 27 and 28 on new construction and renovation, as well as in existing commercial properties.
Resolving Code Conflicts
NSCA, on behalf of its membership, will seek swift resolution to conflicting specifications, building codes, and product safety listing language. It will also be involved directly and through appointees on code-making panels and oversight boards designated to interpret code priority and provide authorities having jurisdiction (AHJs) with accurate compliance information. As these risks and responsibilities shift to the integrator, it is essential for NSCA to step up in a more authoritative role. The NSCA Codes & Compliance Committee is fully prepared to assist integrators with these issues.
Challenging Permit Processes
NSCA, on behalf of its membership, will challenge restrictive, expensive, and lengthy permit processes that create unnecessary obstacles, project delays, and missed deadlines.
Likewise, we will educate our members on the risks involved with bidding projects without knowing the provisions and requirements in various jurisdictions.
Monitoring and Challenging Licensing Requirements
NSCA, on behalf of its membership, will continue to monitor provincial and state licensing requirements, as well as challenge existing exemptions that prevent skilled technicians from performing work as defined in NEC Classes 2 and 3 circuits and defined in Articles 640, 645, 720, 760, 770, 800, 820, and 830.
NSCA will challenge efforts to lower voltage levels (or wattage) or alter the definitions of class 2 or 3 circuits, when used only in a regulatory capture effort or for the purposes of trade jurisdiction, and we will always mandate to our members to honor licensure and laws when outside our defined scope.
Creating IP Transfer or Protection Best Practices
NSCA, on behalf of its membership, will create best practices and checklists for managing contracts, such as business associate agreements (BAAs) that have become a new method for contracting services and defining the transfer of the use of software, the licensing of software, or the ownership of software.
NSCA will develop a statement of best practices for fair and legal protection of intellectual property ownership and the heightened level of obligations of the vendor agreements including unlimited timeframe backdoor indemnification.
Use of the Term “Integrator”
NSCA, on behalf of its membership, will continue to encourage its members to define themselves as “integrators.” We would like the industry to use this term for both the individuals who work within the organization as well as the companies themselves. By doing this, we can create a more defined SOC code, SIC/NAICS code, and have a better-defined classification for our insurance rates and workers' comp modifier categorization. NSCA’s governing ethics statements and these resolutions we have put forth.
NSCA 2021 Position Statements and Priorities
NSCA, on behalf of its membership, has previously adopted the following priorities and position statements, and they will continue to serve as the focal points of our 2021 government affairs strategy.
- Cybersecurity Legislation: NSCA supports the notion that industry experts should guide lawmakers and code officials on the appropriate measures and credentialing of industry professionals. NSCA also supports the regulation and licensing of this profession to establish a baseline for knowledge and integrity of those who provide these services. NSCA monitors legislation and serves as a strong voice with state and federal lawmakers as they evaluate the need to regulate how and when this type of technology can be deployed. We are active in reporting on proposed legislation and offering model legislation when requested to address issues such as privacy, data collection, cyber risks, inappropriate usage, or reckless use of applications or capabilities.
- School Safety: NSCA supports legislation that provides funding for school safety technology and encourages public and private schools to have a comprehensive safety plan in place. As the cofounder of the Partner Alliance for Safer Schools (PASS) K-12, we support the use of its industry-led guidelines as a technology roadmap.
- Internet Usage: NSCA advocates for unrestricted Internet usage and is generally opposed to government regulation on the determination of which systems are deemed more important than others. We do, however, understand that regulations may be needed to prioritize the bandwidth usage to allow the integrity and functionality of crucial business applications. We monitor and report on proposed changes and impending regulations that will impact the commercial and professional electronic systems integration industry.
- Revenue Recognition and Taxation: NSCA monitors and reports on issues such as revenue recognition for managed services and how changes in lease accounting may impact members. State and federal legislation for changes to the corporate or pass-through entity tax provisions will be monitored and reported on. NSCA monitors legislation on how labor is taxed, how capital expenditures and operating expenditures should be taxed, and how doing business in multiple states or countries should be treated for taxes. We are advocates for fair tax laws and ensuring a level playing field with adjacent technology industries.
- Industry Workforce: NSCA’s industry workforce development program focuses on the Ignite workforce development initiative. Our goal is to make this industry known to students and highly skilled workers as early as possible in career planning. This will involve efforts with STEM programs and educational outreach efforts. We are active in proposing model legislation to provide funding for apprenticeships, internships, mentoring programs, veterans programs, and other workforce development programs.
- Professionalism and Training: NSCA advocates for professionalism and training. We remain neutral on licensure for individuals and companies in the systems integration space unless licensing is unfair or requires training from or membership in an organization that doesn’t represent the best interests of the business.
- Calls to Action: NSCA monitors, reports on, and, at times, conducts calls to action when regulations or code changes may impact members. We call out lobbyists who represent special-interest groups that have persuaded lawmakers to put forth unnecessary restrictions under the heading of safety, job creation, and growth. Our role is to educate, inform, and report to the membership on areas of concern.
- Occupation Definition: NSCA works to define the industry’s occupations, along with the anticipated shortage of workers to fill these positions, which ties into our need to unify SOC titles. We maintain and reinforce the need for a unique U.S. Department of Labor Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) title. The O*NET code establishes those definitions. We have met with other leading industry associations to determine the best overall terminology; “Integrator” which we will use to replace the term contractor. This title will best characterize the work you do.
- Labor Laws: NSCA monitors and reports on labor laws that impact our members, such as the U.S. Department of Labor’s overtime rule. We monitor and report on issues such as exempt and non-exempt classifications or mandated employee benefits. Whenever we see local, state, or federal legislation proposed on project labor requirements, prevailing wage, hiring practices, forced labor provisions, and/or participation, we report these changes to our members.
NSCA will continue to monitor and report on the dozens of 2021 bills that will be proposed by legislators for vote this session. We will inform you about any changes that impact you. We ask that you please become involved and engaged in this very important element of your industry.