Electrical licensing legislation has been a priority issue for CEDIA’s government affairs program since the beginning. As Power over Ethernet (PoE), low-voltage lighting, and other residential project technologies have been used more, there has been additional legislative activity at the state and local levels. Currently, CEDIA has 140 electrical licensing bills in its legislative tracking database. Many times, the electrical trade tries to capture new technologies within the scope of an electrical license through electrical licensing legislation.
Throughout the legislative process, CEDIA works to educate policymakers on the home technology industry and how the work of Integrators and electricians are different skill sets requiring unique education and training. Within licensing legislation, CEDIA works to ensure there’s proper licensing structure to support the work of Integrators and the home technology industry.
Breaking Down a Bill
There are a few key areas to consider when reading and analyzing an electrical licensing legislative bill, including definitions, exemptions, years of experience, and grandfathering clauses.
To determine an electrical licensing bill’s impact when the legislation is introduced, there are a few key questions to ask to begin the review:
- What are the current licensing requirements in the state or municipality for electrical work and low-voltage work?
- Who is proposing the changes and what are the reasons behind the proposed changes?
What are the impacts to the proposed changes for the home technology industry?
Definitions, which are often located at the beginning of the legislation, are a key component to any legislative document. For electrical contracting, some terms can be as broad as wires, conduits, apparatus, fixtures, and using electricity for light, heat, or power purposes.
Another key piece to review is the exemption section.
- Is there proper low-voltage exemption language for electrical licensing requirements?
- If there’s a low-voltage exemption, does the scope support technology now and in the future?
Knowing and understanding the years of experience is critical for electrical licensing legislation. For an electrical license, there’s often a four-year electrical apprenticeship (8,000 hours) required to obtain licensing. Multiple forms of education may be recognized as equivalent to electrical apprenticeship programs, which is listed in the legislation. Sometimes there is also a grandfathering clause included, which means that individuals who have done electrical work in the past qualify for the new electrical licensing.
Who’s Making the Decisions?
Electrical licensing legislation often establishes an Electrical Board with different segments to represent the multiple facets of the electrical trade. The Board oversees the electrical license and determines policies related to the electrical license.
During the administrative rulemaking process, multiple jurisdictions can form a reciprocity agreement. This means electricians can do electrical work with their current license in the areas of jurisdiction that have signed on to the agreement.
The Board may also establish continuing education requirements, which could include a course on updates to the National Electrical Code® and other areas of the electrical trade taught by Electrical Board approved providers.
Continuing education is a critical difference between Integrators and Electricians. Continuing education is vital for Integrators to stay up to date on technologies meeting the needs of their clients. Integrators typically work with many more types of technologies and subsystems than electricians, so it’s important they continue to learn and refresh their knowledge on a regular basis.
CEDIA works daily to track, monitor, and lobby on legislation related to the home technology industry. Many of CEDIA’s priority bills are related to electrical licensing issues. The mission of CEDIA’s government affairs program is to advocate for your business and the home technology industry. Stay tuned for future articles about CEDIA’s legislative tracking system, its importance to the legislative process, and how you can get involved. Learn more by visiting CEDIA’s Government Affairs home page.