Stephanie WhittExecutive Vice President
Tennessee’s Alarm Systems Contractor License Inhibits Innovation and Keeps Tennesseans from Earning A Living
Licensing boards often pass restrictions to enter into their profession under the guise of protecting health and safety, but more often it is about stopping competition or protecting their industry from new technologies and innovations. Licensing boards can use their authority to pass a rule and hinder an entire group of Tennesseans’ ability to earn an honest living. Recently, Tennessee’s alarm systems contractors board has used vague language to expand their scope and regulate new innovative companies that do not sell or install alarms. Perhaps worse, Tennessee’s alarm license is the most onerous in the country, with nearly $1,000 in fees and requiring up to a four-year degree and two years’ experience to install alarm systems.
Tennessee should replace the alarm system contractor license with a simple registration process that still protects consumers. The state should also update the definition of an alarm system to ensure that only companies who truly install and monitor alarm systems are regulated, as technology changes rapidly in this field.
How It Works
This Act makes it easier for Tennesseans to obtain a job installing alarm systems by:
1. Updating the definition of an “alarm system” to be more narrowly tailored so new technologies are not ensnared in red tape.
2. Replaces the license from the current alarm board with a registration with the department.
3. Reduces the onerous and unnecessary requirements to work installing alarms, while preserving regulations to protect consumers’ safety.
Who This Impacts
Adam Jackson is a veteran who provided electronic security for U.S. embassies and overseas military bases. Upon retiring from the service, Adam developed groundbreaking facial-recognition software that can instantly scan the face of someone appearing on security cameras and cross-check it with known offender databases. The software is designed to strengthen the defenses at the most vulnerable locations, whether that be in schools or shelters for abused women or sex-trafficking victims. But for over a year, Tennessee’s Alarm Systems Contractors Board prevented Adam from even donating his product, calling it an “alarm system” even though it was clearly software—just like any other computer program—that could be installed on existing systems. Obtaining a license was not an option for Adam, as he would have had to become an apprentice in a company installing systems like burglar alarms for five years, which had nothing to do with his product. While the alarm board eventually reversed its decision, the bureaucratic process delayed Adam’s company for 14 months, denying him valuable start-up time and preventing him from launching his business entirely.