Our trips to Tallahassee were numerous, expensive and whirlwind this year in working with our lobbyist Eric Prutsman. We met with numerous legislators and staff to discuss pending bills and issues affecting our industry. And although there are many who delight in pointing out some of the annoying deficiencies in the governmental system, we came away impressed with both the quality and intelligence of the folks we met.Bob Worthy, legislative chair, John Toscano, John Pastore, Norman Mugford, Ron Toole and many others contributed time, effort and phone sweat for many hours on over thirty bills that affected your alarm contracting business in one form or another. One primary bill presented for passage was a service contracts bill that would have automatically defaulted your service contracts to a thirty day time limit; very inconvenient and very impractical for insurance reasons.

Another bill concerned a new category of licensure for locksmiths: very much needed for security if for no other reason. We were able to work with them to remove the initial statutory conflicts and amend the bill to accommodate the necessary and reasonable terminology for it to pass muster. Then there was the perennial journeyman bill always proposed, that this time around would have removed the existing square footage requirement among other things. Of course, we also monitored a bill that would have a drastic effect on your workers compensation rates if passed in the wrong form.

A very strong political group also pushed extremely hard for an extension on the sprinkler and alarm retrofit of their condominiums to push out to the year 2025. We were able to remove the elements from the bill that adversely affected the electronic alarm issues. One portion of that bill that did pass was the exemption of one and two story condominiums with exterior egress from manual fire alarm systems.  We vigorously opposed this.

If you consider the staggering number of issues that affect your life daily and then assume that one person (a state representative or senator) be expected to immediately grasp the thousand nuances of your industry in one sitting, you are sadly mistaken. You can liken it to someone entering your office and expecting you within a ten minute time frame to comprehend the electronic subtleties of a space launch.

These fine people go to Tallahassee as senators and representatives to try make a difference in bettering your lives. Their legislative staff members are there for that same purpose. The reason our AAF volunteers go to Tallahassee is to play a role in helping them along in this process. This is government from the bottom up, not the top down. These legislators are as dependent upon us for information as we are dependent upon them to pass effective laws. It must NOT be a matter of one individual imposing their will upon others. That is why it is so very important for you to participate in this sometimes difficult process.

Your contributed funds to Florida AlarmPac help elect individuals favorable to your industry. It is why AAF goes to Tallahassee and why, as an AAF member, you are asked to visit legislators in your district. It is most important. Drop by your local legislator’s office, introduce yourself and leave your card. What happens next is when there is an issue regarding security that legislator will call the number on the card you left. Legislators depend upon experts such as you for the information they need to comprehend the problems and to make good law. YOU are the one providing the momentum on the issue rather than being hammered by it.

We succeeded in shutting down the service contracts bill. We worked with the locksmiths, but their bill stalled in committee. The journeyman bill also ground to a halt in committee reviews when issues that could have caused conflicts with existing law became apparent. Workers compensation is now much better than when it started and our electronic fire alarm time frames are still intact for retrofit. All in all, it was a very successful if not hard fought legislative session for 2009.

Every year we appeal to AAF members to contribute funds to assist in these legislative endeavors. The campaign organization formed under Florida law is the Florida AlarmPac. The organization gathers and distributes campaign funds legally to worthy candidates in their quest for office. That is how we are able to support those we want elected.

We ask that you send your contributions to the AAF office right away for the Florida AlarmPac. All amounts large and small are welcome. Do not assume that someone else will send the necessary funds. Make your check out or call the AAF for credit card contributions at: 800-899-2099. Your help in the effort is welcome and needed. Please assist AAF today.

Bob Neely

Executive Director

Alarm Association of Florida