Trade Associations Conflict On Legislation

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The rift between systems integration trade associations became painfully obvious this month when InfoComm released a statement to the industry with its position against the legislative pursuits of NSCA and CEDIA. What these accusations and their subsequent rebuttals made clear was the importance of distinguishing systems integrators from electrical contractors legislatively.

In his October Executive Update, posted online, InfoComm's executive director Randal A. Lemke, Ph.D., asserted the benefit of minimizing government involvement in systems industry certification. He criticized the alleged attempts by NSCA and CEDIA to push state legislation mandating EST (Electronic Systems Technician) certification as a licensure requirement.
"It is time to publicly discuss CEDIA and NSCA's legislative attempts to mandate the EST program as the basis for licensure to work in various states," read the InfoComm statement. "We are taking this somewhat unusual step because the EST has not been accepted by the industry and we need to inform our members and the industry about what our association is doing to protect the Certified Technology Specialist (CTS) and our members' investment in it."

NSCA and CEDIA each responded with a statement clarifying their initiatives, which were to distinguish the systems integration industry from electrical contractors and present to government officials the concept that there are special considerations for systems integrators that need to be recognized.

NSCA said it is simply a legislative study bill and denied the pursuit of a mandate for its certification and responded to InfoComm's attack: "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.'"

The InfoComm statement read: "Sadly, it seems that NSCA and CEDIA are trying to salvage a certification program, produced at considerable expense, which the industry has rejected. Unable to convince their memberships and other industries to invest in this program, they seek to create state mandates for it.

"In Lincoln it was obvious that there is no salient public policy justification for studying or implementing mandatory EST licensing or state certification programs."

NSCA disagreed with this statement and believes the opportunity goes beyond Lincoln, NE. "For example, in February, in Des Moines, IA," read NSCA's response, "NSCA and CEDIA were the only two associations in our industry in attendance to fight 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 the 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." NSCA stated that there was no attempt at licensure in this effort.

CEDIA's response to InfoComm's statement held similar assertions regarding the separation of systems integrators' legislative needs from those of electricians.

"During the 2006 state legislative sessions, the CEDIA Government Affairs team tracked over 600 bills in 45 states," read CEDIA's response from CEDIA's Ken Smith, board president and Don Gilpin, executive director. "The majority of legislation CEDIA has been engaged in over the years deals with statewide electrical licensing and contracting proposals regulating electronic systems contractors and technicians."

CEDIA...www.cedia.net
InfoComm...www.infocomm.org
NSCA...www.nsca.org

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