“There’s no trick to being a humorist when you have the whole government working for you.”  ~ Will Rogers US humorist & showman (1879 – 1935)

Our trips to Tallahassee may be numerous, expensive and whirlwind this year in working with our lobbyist Eric Prutsman and because of early session. We have already 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 can’t help but come away impressed with the both the quality and intelligence of the folks that we meet.

Bob Worthy, legislative chair and many others have contributed time, effort and phone sweat for many hours over the potential issues that could affect your alarm contracting business in one form or another.   The perennial ‘journeyman’ bill always proposed, this time around will remove the existing square footage requirement among other things.  There are of course other bills regarding condominiums, deregulation and workers compensation that we are monitoring as well.

A very strong political group has been pushing extremely hard for repeal on the sprinkler and alarm retrofit of their condominiums. We have been successful in removing the elements from similar past bills that adversely affect the electronic alarm issues. But the fight on this one is gigantic and we need your help both politically and financially to be successful again. 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. Since they were successful on this issue they want another bite of the apple this year in the 2012 session.

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

These fine people go toTallahasseeas Senators and Representatives to try and make a difference in the way we are able to better our lives. Their legislative staff members are there for that same purpose. The reason ourAAFvolunteers go toTallahasseeis 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 the remainder of us or loyalty to any particular party. That is why it is so very important for us to participate in this sometimes difficult process.

That is why you contribute funds to our Florida AlarmPac to help elect individuals favorable to our industry. That is why we go toTallahassee. That is why we visit them in their district offices. This is most important. If you were a plumber and dropped by your local legislator’s office to introduce yourself and left your card, imagine what happens when you leave. The first time they have a leaky faucet, or an issue arises regarding plumbing construction, or waste water, or a thousand other plumbing issues, guess who that legislator will call? The number on the card you left.

The same thing applies to security and fire issues. If your card is on their desk, they will CALL YOU! They are by no means experts in any one industry and rarely have the background necessary for every issue that comes up. They depend upon experts such as you for the information they need to comprehend the problem and to make good law. That is why you need to introduce yourself to them. That way YOU are the one providing the momentum on the issue rather than being hammered from the “top down”.

Every year we appeal to our members to contribute funds to assist us in these legislative endeavors. Our campaign organization formed under Floridalaw is the Florida AlarmPac. We gather and distribute campaign funds legally through this organization to worthy candidates in their quest for office. That is how we are able to support those we want elected. Coincidentally recently retired Fire Chief Jon Pasqualone has announced his candidacy this year in District 82. He has a web site www.jonpasqualone.com that you may want to visit. Jon is currently COO of the Florida Fire Marshals’ and Inspectors Association and has been a long time friend of the public and private sector industries.

The 2011 session was one of the hardest fights we ever had in protecting alarm industry issues stretching from the home offices right onto the House legislature floor. This year promises to be even more difficult. We ask that you send your contributions to the Florida AlarmPac at theAAFoffice right away. All amounts large and small are welcome. Do not assume that someone else will do this. Make your check out today, or call theAAFfor credit card contributions @ 800-899-2099.  We need and welcome your help in the effort. Please assist us today.

Bob Neely

Executive Director

Alarm Association of Florida