Texas Installers: Where’s Your License?

If you install garage door or gate operator systems in Texas, you need to get licensed.

On Sept. 1, 2004, a new law (SB 1252) took effect in Texas. The law defines “alarm system” and “electronic access control device” in such a way that it applies to installers of garage door and gate operators. Read on.

It Depends on Your Definition of …

SB 1252 defines “alarm system” to include “electronic equipment and devices … designed to control the access of a person, vehicle, or object through a door, gate, or entrance into the controlled area of a residence or business.” Does that sound like a garage door or gate operator?

SB 1252 also defines “electronic access control device” as “an electronic, electrical, or computer-based device that allows access to a controlled area of a business …” See the problem?

Getting Our Foot in the Door

But there’s some good news. A coalition of representatives from affected industries has pulled together and is now in a position to be heard by significant players in Texas government.

The Texas Private Security Board (PSB) is making the specific rules that apply to SB 1252. On June 24, 2004, the PSB appointed an Advisory Committee to help it understand the inadvertent consequences created by the broad definitions in the new law.

The Committee is made up of one representative from each of the associations affected by SB 1252: IDA (Randy Oliver, a San Antonio door dealer), DASMA (Chuck Mogged of Overhead Door), the American Association of Automatic Door Manufacturers (AAADM, Don Moerbe), the American Fence Association (AFA, Robert Coffman), and Naomi Angel, legal counsel familiar with each of the associations.

Pleading Our Case

We believe that the legislative history of the bill indicates that only installers of burglar alarm systems and other security devices were to be regulated and licensed. However, the law’s definitions inadvertently encompass far more.

On Aug. 13, at the request of the PSB, the Committee submitted a formal “Request for Clarification of Legislative Intent Behind SB 1252.” The request asks several specific questions as to whether SB 1252 was intended to apply to residential or commercial garage door operators, residential or commercial gate operators, and automatic pedestrian doors.

What’s an Installer to Do?

Right now, all kinds of access control products and systems are covered by the law, including residential and commercial garage door and gate operators, and automatic pedestrian doors.

The PSB cannot delay implementation of the current legislation. Therefore, as of Jan. 1, 2005, all previously unregulated persons who install, maintain, or repair electronic access control devices and operators must obtain a Class D [access control] license in the state of Texas. The PSB recommends that you get the Class D license whether the products you install were intentionally or inadvertently covered by the law.

To qualify for a Class D license, you must:
· Get a thorough criminal background and FBI check,
· Get fingerprinted,
· Present evidence of financial stability,
· Show proof of adequate comprehensive liability insurance coverage (minimum $200,000), and
· Pass a fairly simple, routine exam.

What’s Next?

The PSB cannot change the law. If the law is to be actually amended, the Texas Legislature would have to consider it in 2005. However, the PSB does have the authority to interpret the law, through rulemaking, thereby including and excluding certain classes of devices.

The PSB will meet in Austin on Oct. 13 and again in December to make these rules, which will be based on their understanding of legislative intent and clarifications of definitions provided by the Advisory Committee.

In the meantime, IDEA and AFA are developing a gate operator installer licensing certification program. When it is completed, we anticipate that the PSB will create another license classification for gate operators. To qualify for that license, you would need to pass the gate operator installer certification program in addition to the standard licensing requirements.

For the next several months, I encourage you to keep a close eye on the latest developments in this legislation. Your ability to stay in business may depend on it.