This is the second of three parts on one of CEDIA’s most important functions, Government Affairs.
According to Darren Reaman, CEDIA’s Director of Government Affairs, the department he heads “was founded in the late ‘90s/early 2000s, under then-president Mitchell Klein. We track and monitor legislation that could impact our CEDIA member businesses. Whether that’s licensing regulations, e-waste or other technology issues that could impact on a day-to-day basis how our members do their jobs.”
And nearly since the beginning, there’s a piece of legislation he’s been eyeballing: Massachusetts has been kicking around laws that would make life difficult for low-voltage systems integrators since 2003.
It’s all in a day’s work for Reaman, keeping tabs on both the short and the long game. “That’s the thing, you don’t know how quickly something is going to move.”
Often, as is the case with Massachusetts, Reaman is coping with potential licensing issues.
The language of state legislatures is often broad when it comes to licensing electrical contracting. “Sometimes it can be as vague as ‘electrical contracting means light, heat, power, and communications,’” Reaman explains. The red flags are readily apparent to any technology integrator: What’s the definition of, say, “communications,” for example? And is every light fixture covered by the law — even today’s incredibly efficient ones?
“I’m looking for a clarifying amendment to make it strictly electrical, and draw that line between low- voltage and high- voltage,” says Reaman.
Once Reaman makes clear that small businesses will be adversely affected, the legislators listen.
“If you look through the years, there’s a statewide electrical licensing bill in Iowa that we worked on to get an exemption from. I mean, we worked on it, again, for two or three years … but we were successful in getting an exemption there a few years ago. In Wisconsin, there was a statewide electrical license bill. As introduced, the bill had an exemption for 50 volts or more. We were able to successfully raise that from 50 volts to 100 volts.”
And again, patience and persistence are two of Reaman’s best attributes.
“One bill that just got signed last month by the Governor of Missouri is a statewide electrical licensing bill. That was actually the first bill we lobbied on in 2004. It was reintroduced year to year — and then actually enacted just last month.”
“And it has an exemption for low-voltage work.”
In the next installment of this series, we’ll discover some less-than-obvious issues that can trip up a systems integrator.