Georgia False Alarm Bill Survives House Vote, Moves on to Senate
The proposed state law would stop cities like Sandy Springs from fining alarm companies for false alarms caused by end users.
ATLANTA — Installing security contractors in Georgia may be walking around with a little extra bounce in their collective step after the House passed a bill on Monday that would prevent cities like Sandy Springs and Brookhaven from levying fines for false alarms that are triggered through no fault of their own.
House Bill 465 — which would stop cities from fining alarm companies for false alarms that occur “through no fault of the alarm systems contractor” — passed by a wide majority.
Alarm companies can still be held responsible to pay “any fines, fees or other penalties” in the event a false alarm is attributed to “improper installation”; or if the company “cannot provide evidence of telephone logs, other electronic means, or visual evidence that the alarm verification process … was followed.”
If an alarm company is found to be in compliance with the proposed law, municipalities may require the individual property owner responsible for the false alarm “to pay for or be responsible for any fines, fees, or other penalties relative to false alarms,” according to the bill’s current language.
HB 465 must now pass the state Senate in order to become a law. If approved, it would supersede the contentious ordinances passed by Sandy Springs and Brookhaven.
Alarm industry stakeholders anxiously followed the Georgia General Assembly proceedings throughout Monday after the House considered a raft of bills well into the evening. Monday marked “Crossover Day 2021,” the 28th day of Georgia’s 40-day legislative session — the last day for bills to move from one chamber to the other and still have a clear path to becoming law this year.
The session appeared to be concluding as midnight approached with HB 465 yet to be considered when Representative Joseph Gullett, one of six House Republicans sponsoring the bill, was called to the floor. After he briefly presented the bill’s core language and purpose, it was approved 113-52.
The fate of HB 465 will be decided in forthcoming Senate subcommittee meetings, during which the merits of the bill will be hotly contested by multiple opponents, according to John Loud, proprietor of Kennesaw, Ga.-based LOUD Security.
Loud, who has fostered deep connections in Georgia’s political and business landscapes, and Holly Borgmann, vice president, government affairs at ADT, are principally responsible for efforts in crafting HB 465 and seeking sponsorship for it in the legislature.
Loud described getting the bill passed in the House as “a little notch in the belt,” but the real battle will begin in the Senate. “To be realistic we are only halfway there,” he said.
There will be three main opponents to the bill during Senate deliberations: officials from Sandy Springs and Brookhaven, and the Georgia Municipal Association (GMA), a nonprofit organization that provides legislative advocacy. (During Monday’s House session, the GMA requested a small amendment to HB 465’s language to include reference to enhanced called verification, which Loud and Borgmann approved.)
“We definitely have got some work ahead of us. But we know the obstacles, we know what we have to tackle and work our way through,” Loud said. “But this is the first time that we have a first-step of a win in all of our battles with Sandy Springs over these last three or four years. Here we go.”
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