The American Lighting Assn. (ALA) is able to stay abreast of legislative issues at both the federal and state levels by subscribing to a Thomson Reuters monitoring service that sends alerts within 24 hours of the introduction of a pertinent piece of legislation. For 2013, ALA announced that it is expanding this service to include key regulatory agencies as well.
ALA President Dick Upton says that monitoring regulatory agencies has become necessary because some of them have stopped publishing notices regarding issues they are working on that could significantly impact the industry.
“Regulatory proceedings can be equally or more challenging than legislative,” Upton says. “Now what happens is that legislation is broad and is put into effect by regulatory agencies and many people just aren’t aware of new requirements if they don’t follow these issues closely.”
Just this happened in British Columbia in July 2012 when many retailers and manufacturers weren't aware of the province's “End of Life” program to ensure the proper disposal of electronic products, including ceiling fans and lighting. Failure to comply with the guidelines would’ve cost retailers and manufacturers a fine of up to $200,000 a day. The ALA was able to appeal to the company behind the effort, Product Care, and got the start date deferred until Oct. 1, 2012. The use of Thomson Reuters monitoring service can help the ALA stay one step ahead for members in these situations.
The service uses keywords to search legislation, and now regulatory agency issues, and produces information about who sponsored the bill and what committee is handling it. ALA can then track an issue’s progress and be proactive about affairs that may affect the industry. This service is especially helpful for state legislation, says Upton, where it is difficult and time-consuming to stay on top of the information.
“I’m not aware of any retailers that monitor state legislation, and even manufacturers only monitor larger states. Very few of our members have a government affairs staff member, so we do our part to make sure that they are as educated as possible,” Upton explains.