There has been a lot of news out of CEDIA HQ in 2021. We’ve forged new education partnerships with the likes of the PowerHouse Alliance, HTSN, and Google. We’ve hosted in-person regional Tech Summits and new virtual events like WellCon. We’ve issued new standards and recommended practices and dramatically updated our certification program. We’ve welcomed new leaders and honored CEDIA award winners around the globe. There is a tremendous amount for us to celebrate — but all these achievements only represent a portion of our mission.
CEDIA’s government affairs efforts carry on year-round, rarely making the news, but holding profound implications for the industry. CEDIA is a global organization, but when it comes to government affairs, we act really, really locally, tracking and working to influence pending legislation at the state and even municipal level. We ensure that the residential technology systems industry has a voice in the government process, and that legislators understand how our profession fits in alongside other trades. We also provide resources to help members navigate regulatory requirements of their projects.
We’re a nimble department with eyes on hundreds of issues with pending legislation and regulations. Fortunately, our members are everywhere. I rely on them to alert me to issues and help advance the industry’s interests. If, as an integrator, you aren’t paying close attention to state and local government, you should be. Here’s what to look out for, how to get involved, and how CEDIA can support you.
Key Issue: Licensing
For years, our principle legislative issue has been electrical licensing. As technology systems and electrical systems become ever more deeply integrated, becoming part of a holistic smart home, there’s a risk that lines between the trades are becoming blurred. Technological developments like Power over Ethernet (PoE) and low-voltage lighting have carved into electricians’ traditional domains. At the same time, many security and alarm integrators have expanded their service offerings to include smart home and AV devices.
We carefully monitor pending electrical and security licensing legislation to ensure that appropriate exceptions are carved out for residential integrators. Basically, we work to make sure that integrators aren’t required to obtain licenses that don’t relate to their jobs. In many cases, this means making sure legislators are aware of our industry, understand what we do, and realize the differences between an electrician’s role and an integrator’s. We provide resources explaining low-voltage systems in layman’s terms and spell out where the National Electrical Code (NEC) does and does not apply to our profession. This year, we were successful in getting a low-voltage exemption in Maryland within statewide electrical licensing legislation and defended a low-voltage exemption in Oklahoma, and we’re currently working on municipal legislation in Houston.
If you have got a looming licensing issue in your backyard, reach out to me at CEDIA. If the issue isn’t already on my radar through our legislative tracking system, I’ll add it. Then, I’ll probably come right back and ask you for help and your participation.
CEDIA’s government affairs department acts as the voice of the residential technology integrator only because so many integrators lend us their voices. Local lawmakers are far more readily influenced by their own constituents — particularly business owners and employers in their districts — than by an industry association. CEDIA can help you get involved, constructively, in the issues that impact your business the most.
First, it’s extremely important to know your local representatives. I don’t just mean “know who they are.” I mean know them, and make sure they know you. Go to a town hall meeting or a meet-and-greet. Introduce yourself and your business. Make sure that, if a regulatory issue ever arises, you already have your local representative’s ear. That’s an entirely self-interested investment in your personal business, but it can also benefit the industry as a whole in your area.
Next, if you’re a CEDIA member, make sure you open and read any Government Affairs Alerts you receive from us. These aren’t blast emails to our member list — they’re targeted regional communications about pending legislation that directly affects your business in your area. Each alert contains a call to action — concrete steps you can take, as a constituent — to protect your interests and those of the industry. The more members take up this call to action, the louder our voice on the issue.
The work of the CEDIA Government Affairs department is nonstop, year-round. For most integrators, especially those at small businesses, the work of protecting your company and staying abreast of local regulations is as well. By partnering with CEDIA, you can make sure you’re aware of the issues that affect you and help to steer their direction. As 2022 dawns, I invite you to join CEDIA in amplifying the voice of your industry. I look forward to continuing to work with you to represent the interests of a great industry.