1997 Regular Session
To: Business and Financial Institutions
By: Senator(s) Canon
Senate Bill 2613
AN ACT TO CREATE THE MISSISSIPPI ALARM CONTRACTORS LICENSING ACT; TO DEFINE CERTAIN TERMS; TO PROHIBIT CERTAIN ACTIVITIES OF ALARM CONTRACTORS; TO PROVIDE EXCLUSIONS FROM THE REQUIREMENTS OF THE ACT; TO CREATE A BOARD OF ALARM SYSTEMS CONTRACTORS; TO PRESCRIBE THE POWERS AND DUTIES OF SUCH BOARD; TO REQUIRE REGISTRATION OF ALARM SYSTEMS CONTRACTOR EMPLOYEES; TO PRESCRIBE THE APPLICATION PROCESS AND TERM OF ALARM SYSTEMS CONTRACTOR LICENSE; TO REQUIRE A SURETY BOND FOR CERTIFICATION AS AN ALARM SYSTEMS CONTRACTOR; TO ESTABLISH APPLICATION, CERTIFICATION, REGISTRATION AND LICENSE FEES; TO PRESCRIBE THE GROUNDS OF SUSPENSION OR REVOCATION OF CERTIFICATE OR LICENSE; TO PROVIDE CIVIL PENALTIES FOR VIOLATIONS OF THE ACT; TO PROHIBIT COUNTIES AND MUNICIPALITIES FROM OFFERING SERVICES AS AN ALARM SYSTEMS CONTRACTOR TO THE GENERAL PUBLIC; TO CREATE A SPECIAL FUND IN THE STATE TREASURY TO BE KNOWN AS THE "BOARD OF ALARM CONTRACTORS FUND"; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. This act shall be known and may be cited as the "Mississippi Alarm Contractors Licensing Act."
SECTION 2. The purpose of this act is to provide uniform procedures and qualifications throughout Mississippi for the certifying, licensing and regulation of alarm systems contractors and to protect the safety and security of persons and property by assuring the competence of individuals or companies offering alarm systems and services to the general public.
SECTION 3. As used in this act, unless the context otherwise requires:
(a) "Alarm system" means any mechanical, electrical and/or electronic system designated to:
(i) Record, view, monitor, protect against, avoid or reduce the probability of personal or property loss or injury resulting from fire, smoke, heat, burglary, theft, shoplifting, pilferage or other losses of that type;
(ii) Monitor, detect or prevent intrusion; or
(iii) Detect and summon aid for other emergencies;
(b) "Alarm systems contractor" means any person, firm, association or corporation which sells, or attempts to sell, installs, services or monitors alarm systems, signal devices, fire alarms, burglar alarms, computers, television cameras or still cameras used to detect fire, burglary, breaking and/or entering, intrusion, shoplifting, pilferage or theft;
(c) "Board" means the State Board for Licensing Alarm Systems Contractors, created by Section 6 of this act;
(d) "Burglar alarm system" means an alarm or monitoring system which has the primary function of detecting and/or responding to emergencies other than fire;
(e) "Business entity" means each location from which alarm systems are sold, installed or serviced;
(f) "Certification" means the authority granted by the board to do business as an alarm systems contractor;
(g) "Fire alarm system" means an alarm or monitoring system that is intended to respond to or detect fire, heat, smoke or other byproducts of combustion;
(h)(i) "Good moral character" means an individual with high legal, moral and ethical values;
(ii) The following shall be prima facie evidence that an individual does not have good moral character:
A. Conviction by any local, state, federal or military court of any crime involving the illegal use, possession, sale, manufacture, distribution or transportation of a controlled substance, drug or narcotic;
B. Conviction of a crime involving felonious assault;
C. Conviction of a crime involving unlawful breaking or entering, burglary, larceny or arson;
D. Conviction as an habitual criminal; or
E. An addiction to alcohol or a narcotic drug.
For purposes of this subsection, "conviction" means and includes the entry of a plea of guilty, plea of no contest or a verdict [of guilty] rendered in open court by a judge or jury;
(i) "Installation" means the installation, maintenance, service and repair of alarm systems;
(j) "Monitoring" means any off-site central monitoring station or location which receives electronic burglar alarm, closed circuit television, and/or fire alarm signals from multiple locations and notifies and/or dispatches other persons to emergency burglaries, hold-ups, thefts, vandalism, civil unrest, personal emergencies and/or fire alarm conditions;
(k) "Qualifying agent" means an individual licensed by the board whose qualifications have been demonstrated to the board for overseeing and supervising alarm systems contractor of any classification or combination of classifications.
SECTION 4. (1) After July 1, 1998, no person shall engage in or hold themselves out as engaging in the business of an alarm systems contractor without first being certified in accordance with this act.
(2) No person shall do business under this act unless the business entity has in its employ a qualifying agent who meets the requirements for licensing by the board and who is, in fact licensed under the provisions of this act. The qualifying agent, who is licensed under this act, shall be in a management position and be responsible for overseeing the quality of operations of the alarm systems contractor.
(3) In the event that the qualifying agent upon whom the business entity relies in order to do business ceases to perform such agent's duties as qualifying agent, the business entity shall notify the board within ten (10) working days. The business entity must obtain a substitute qualifying agent within thirty (30) days after the original qualifying agent ceases to serve as qualifying agent unless the board, in its discretion, extends this period for good cause for a period not to exceed three (3) months.
(4) The certification application shall designate at least one (1) qualifying agent who is certified for each contractor classification and category of service to be performed by the certified business. No qualifying agent shall serve for more than one (1) business entity. The certification application shall designate which classification(s) the applicant is seeking.
(5) No alarm systems contractor may participate in a joint venture to provide equipment or services which require certification under this act unless all parties to the joint venture are certified in accordance with this act.
(6) No contractor may subcontract the provision of equipment or services requiring a certification under this act to any uncertified person, firm, association or corporation except as provided in Section 5(g) of this act.
(7) No alarm systems contractor shall retain as an employee any person known not to be of good moral character.
(8) No person shall act as an alarm systems contractor under a certification without having a licensed qualifying agent who holds a valid license in the category for which business is sought or work is to be done.
(9) No person shall act as a qualifying agent without a valid license issued by the board.
(10) No person shall sell and install, service, monitor or respond to alarm signals, signal devices, fire alarms, burglar alarms, [computers,] television or still cameras used to detect fire, burglary, breaking and/or entering, intrusion, shoplifting, pilferage or theft in violation of this act or the rules adopted hereunder.
(11) No person shall advise anyone as to the need, quantity or quality of alarm systems and sell such systems unless certified, licensed or registered under this act.
SECTION 5. The following persons, firms, associations or corporations are specifically excluded from the requirements of this act:
(a) Equipment manufacturers not providing direct sales, monitoring and/or installation of service to system end users;
(b) Telephone installers/dealers not providing direct sales, monitoring, installation and/or maintenance service of alarm systems;
(c) Equipment distributors or suppliers not offering sales, monitoring or installation services directly to the system user;
(d) Retail stores or catalog sales not offering installation or consulting services to the system user;
(e) Utility companies not installing, selling, servicing or monitoring alarm systems;
(f) Sprinkler contractors not providing direct sales, monitoring, installation and/or maintenance service alarm systems;
(g) Contractors, including general, electrical, mechanical or HVAC contractors who do provide direct sales, monitoring, installation and/or maintenance service of alarm systems, but who derive less than fifty percent (50%) of their gross annual revenues from such business;
(h) Architects and engineers not providing direct sales, monitoring, installation and/or maintenance service of alarm systems;
(i) Individual property owners personally installing an alarm system within the owner's residence or other building not open to the general public;
(j) Direct sellers and installers dealing exclusively with alarm systems for motor vehicles;
(k)(i) Locksmiths not providing direct sales, monitoring, installation and/or maintenance service of alarm systems. Locksmiths who install only mechanical locks or mechanical locks that have an integral alarm as part of their design without electrical components and electro-mechanical locks such as self-contained, low-voltage exit alarm devices that secure a single entry point, which are not part of an integrated system, are also exempt from the requirements of this act; and
(ii) Applicants for certification as alarm systems contractors and/or licensure as qualifying agents who have, prior to July 1, 1998, submitted to the board fully completed application forms, requisite application fees and all information and documentation required by the board, but only until such date as the board has granted or denied the respective application; and
(l) A company which does not provide monitoring services and which has Fifty Million Dollars ($50,000,000.00) or more in annual sales and whose product requires no internal building wiring to install.
SECTION 6. (1) There is created a State Board of Alarm Systems Contractors, hereinafter called the "board." The board shall be composed of five (5) members, at least one (1) of this number shall be a person who is not engaged in the contracting business in any county of this state. At least two (2) of the members of the board shall be qualifying agents employed by a certified contractor who has fewer than seven (7) employees. The remaining members of the board shall be alarm systems contractors as defined in Section 3 of this act; all of whom shall have been actively engaged in the business for a period of not less than four (4) years next preceding their appointment, and may be appointed from a list of qualified applicants submitted by the Mississippi Burglar and Fire Alarm Association. Not more than two (2) members of the board shall be residents of the same Public Service Commission District of the state. In making appointments to the board, the Governor shall strive to ensure that at least one (1) person serving on the board is sixty (60) years of age or older and that at least one (1) person serving on the board is a member of a racial minority.
(2) Appointments to the board shall be by the Governor. Initial appointments to the board shall be made within ninety (90) days of July 1, 1997, and shall list the expiration date of each appointment. All subsequent appointments of successor members shall be made by the Governor at the expiration of the respective terms of the members.
(3) In the vent of a vacancy on the board for any reason and the Governor failing to appoint a successor within ninety (90) days after the vacancy occurs, the board is empowered to fill that vacancy from the list of nominees submitted by the Mississippi Burglar and Fire Alarm Association, until the Governor makes an appointment.
SECTION 7. (1) In accordance with the provisions of the Administrative Procedures Act, Section 25-43-1 et seq., Mississippi Code of 1972, the board shall promulgate such rules as may be reasonably necessary to implement and administer the provisions of this act in an efficient and effective manner, including rules to require submission of reports and information by certified companies and licensees under this act.
(2) The board shall have the power to establish fees under Section 17 of this act sufficient to pay the annual expenses of the board.
(3) The board shall determine minimum qualifications and/or establish minimum education, experience and training standards for applicants for certifications, licenses and registrations under this act, including those required for renewal.
(4) All persons employed by an alarm systems contractor shall apply for registration with the board within thirty (30) days after employment and shall submit to a background check conducted by the board, including investigation by the Mississippi Highway Patrol and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
(5) The board shall conduct investigations regarding alleged violations and make evaluations as may be necessary to determine if certified companies, licensees and registrants under this act are complying with the provisions of this act. The board may also investigate allegations regarding possible violations of this act by unregistered persons and shall seek enforcement under Section 19 of this act.
(6) The board may investigate allegations regarding improper, inadequate and/or ineffective alarm system installations and seek enforcement under Section 19 of this act.
(7) The board shall have the power to promulgate such rules and regulations, not inconsistent with the laws of Mississippi, as it shall deem necessary for internal management and control.
(8) The board shall investigate and approve applicants to be certified, licensed or registered according to this act.
(9) The board may deny, suspend or revoke any certification, license or registration issued or to be issued under this act to any applicant or licensee who fails to satisfy the requirements of this act or the rules and bylaws established by the board.
(10) The board may issue subpoenas to compel the attendance of witnesses and the production of pertinent books, accounts, records and documents.
(11) The board may enter into reciprocal agreements with other states whose laws are similar to this act; provided, however, that such other state's law provides for liability insurance coverage, background checks, educational or experience requirements equal to or greater than those contained in this act. The board through regulations shall establish registration and fee requirements for such reciprocity. Such fees shall be equal to or not less than those fees paid by Mississippi alarm contractors.
SECTION 8. (1)(a) Each member of the board shall be at least twenty-five (25) years of age and of good moral character.
(b) Each member shall be of recognized standing in the alarm contracting business; provided, that the provisions of this paragraph (b) shall not apply to the member who is not engaged in the business of alarm contracting.
(2) The terms of members shall be for a five-year period and shall be staggered so that the term of at least one (1) member shall expire each December 31.
(3) In the event of death, resignation or failure of a member to serve such member's full term, such member's successor shall be appointed to serve the balance of the unexpired term. Each member shall hold over after the expiration of such member's term until such member's successor shall have been duly appointed and qualified. If vacancies shall occur on the board for any cause, the same shall be filled by appointment of the Governor within ninety (90) days.
(4) Except for appointments to the initial board, no person shall be eligible for appointment on the board who is not a qualifying agent under this act; provided, that the provisions of this subsection (4) shall not apply to the member who is not engaged in the business of alarm contracting.
(5) The Governor may remove any member of the board for official misconduct, incompetency, willful neglect of duty or demonstrated lack of good moral character by conduct that would disqualify an applicant from being registered under this act.
SECTION 9. (1) The board shall establish in its bylaws a regular meeting schedule for the purpose of transacting business.
(2) At the first meeting of each calendar year, the board shall elect officers, including a chair, vice-chair and secretary.
(3) Special meetings of the board shall be held at such times as the board may require. Special meetings shall be at the call of the chair or by a majority of the board members.
(4) Three (3) members shall constitute a quorum for transaction of board business.
(5) Due notice of each meeting and the time and place thereof shall be given each member [and the public] in such manner as the bylaws may provide.
(6) Board members shall serve without compensation but shall be entitled to reimbursement for travel expenses as authorized under Section 25-3-41, Mississippi Code of 1972.
SECTION 10. (1) The board shall keep a register of all applications for certification, license and/or registration, showing on each the date of application, name, qualifications, place of business, place of residence and whether a license or registration was granted or refused.
(2) The books and register of the board shall be prima facie evidence of all matters recorded therein.
SECTION 11. (1) All alarm systems contractor employees with access to records, diagrams, plans or other sensitive information pertaining to monitore, installed or proposed alarm systems shall be registered with the board.
(2) In accordance with the provisions of the Administrative Procedures Act, Section 25-43-1 et seq., Mississippi Code of 1972, the board shall promulgate rules to establish an appropriate system of employee classifications and registration.
(3) An alarm systems contractor may not employ any employee required to be registered with the board unless the employee is properly registered with the board in compliance with subsection (4).
(4) All alarm systems contractors, within thirty (30) days of the beginning of employment of any employee, shall furnish the board with the following:
(a) Set(s) of classifiable fingerprints on standard FBI/MHP applicant cards;
(b) Recent color photograph(s) of acceptable quality for identification; and
(c) Statements of any criminal records in each area where the employee has resided within the immediately preceding forty-eight (48) months.
(5) Upon receipt of an application, the board shall cause an FBI/MHP background investigation to be made, during which the applicant shall be required to show that such applicant meets all the following requirements and qualifications, prerequisite to registration or licensure:
(a) Such applicant is at least eighteen (18) years of age;
(b) Such applicant is of good moral character; and
(c) Such applicant has the necessary training, qualifications and experience to be registered.
SECTION 12. (1) Anyone desiring to be licensed as a qualifying agent shall make written application to the board on such forms as are prescribed by the board. The application shall be accompanied by an application fee as set by the board.
(2) An applicant shall meet all of the requirements for a registered employee as indicated in Section 15 of this act. Application shall be accompanied by the documents required for employee registration as detailed in Section 14 of this act.
(3) An applicant for qualifying agent shall meet the following combination of experience and educational requirements:
(a) The applicant must hold a four-year baccalaureate degree in electrical engineering from an accredited university or college acceptable to the board with at least two (2) years of actual experience in the alarm industry; or
(b) The applicant must hold an associate degree in engineering technology from an accredited two-year technical college acceptable to the board with at least four (4) years of actual experience in the alarm industry; or
(c) The applicant must hold current certification by a national training program approved by the board in the field of work to be installed and have at least five (5) years of working experience in the alarm industry covering the actual installation of alarms.
(4) If the application is satisfactory to the board, the qualifying agent shall be entitled to an examination to determine such agent's qualifications. This examination may be written and/or oral. The board shall be entitled to charge each applicant an examination fee as set by the board for each written and/or oral examination.
(5) If the results of the examination of any applicant shall be satisfactory to the board, then it shall issue to the applicant a license as qualifying agent in this state. The board shall state the classifications in which the applicant is qualified to engage.
(6) A license as a qualifying agent shall expire on the last day of the twelfth (12th) month following its issuance or renewal, and shall become invalid on such date unless renewed.
(7) Renewal notices shall be mailed to the last known address of the qualifying agent ninety (90) days prior to the expiration date of the license. Such renewal must be received in the office of the board thirty (30) days prior to the expiration of such license.
(8) It shall be the duty of the board to notify every person registered hereunder by mail to the last known address of the date of expiration of such person's certificate of license and the amount of fee required for its renewal for one (1) year; such notice shall be mailed in accordance with this section.
(9) The fee to be paid for the renewal of a certificate of license after the expiration date shall be increased ten percent (10%) for each month or fraction of a month that payment for renewal is delayed; provided, that the maximum fee for a delayed renewal shall not exceed twice the normal fee. Registration of an employee shall be for one (1) year and shall be subject to renewal.
(10) No qualifying agent shall be qualified to receive a renewal license when such agent has been in default in complying with the provisions of this act for a period of one (1) year, and in such event, the qualifying agent, in order to qualify under the law, shall make a new application as in the case of the issuance of the original license.
(11) The board shall not grant renewal of a qualifying agent license until it has received satisfactory evidence of continuing education during the previous year. The board shall promulgate rules to establish minimum satisfactory standards of continuing education.
(12) The board may, after notice and an opportunity for hearing, suspend, revoke or deny renewal of a license to a qualifying agent who is a qualifying agent for a person, firm, association or corporation which has had its certification suspended or revoked under Section 18 of this act. The board shall in all cases before hearing any charges against any registrant furnish a written copy of the charges against the accused, including notice of the time and place where the charges will be heard, and give reasonable opportunity for the accused to be present and offer any evidence the accused may wish. The accused shall have the right to an attorney if the accused so desires. The revocation or suspension of license shall be in writing, stating the grounds upon which the board decision is based. The aggrieved person shall have the right to appeal from such decision.
(13) No qualifying agent may be the qualifying agent for more than one (1) business location.
SECTION 13. (1) Anyone desiring to be certified as an alarm systems contractor shall make written application to the board on such forms as are prescribed by the board. The application shall be accompanied by an application fee as set by the board. The alarm systems contractor shall:
(a) Be registered in the State of Mississippi and have a regular place of business at a permanent fixed location;
(b) Have a business license or licenses for the city and county in which the business is located;
(c) Provide proof of insurance as required by Section 14(3) of this act;
(d) Provide surety bond as required by Section 14(1) of this act;
(e) Submit an application for certification with the notarized signature of a qualifying agent licensed by the board for the classifications of alarm systems being applied for; and
(f) Submit applications for registration of all employees on forms provided by the board as required by Section 11(4) of this act and accompanied by registration fees as required by Section 17(1)(e) of this act.
(2) Applications for certification shall be on forms as prescribed by the board. The application shall disclose any and all persons, firms, associations, corporations or other entities that own or control a ten percent (10%) or greater interest in the applicant. The board may require FBI/MHP background checks and other information as deemed necessary by the board from any individual, firm or business owning or controlling ten percent (10%) or greater interest in the applicant and may at the board's discretion withhold certification until such information is satisfactorily produced and verified.
(3) In accordance with the Administrative Procedures Act, Section 25-43-1 et seq., Mississippi Code of 1972, the board shall promulgate rules which establish uniform criteria to govern issuance by the board of the classifications required by Sections 13(5) and 15(2) of this act.
(4) The certification application shall designate at least one (1) qualifying agent who is or shall be licensed for each classification of service to be performed by the certified business entity. No qualifying agent who has been so designated may serve on behalf of or be employed by any other business entity. The certification application shall designate for which classification(s) the applicant is seeking a certification.
SECTION 14. (1) No certification shall be issued under this act until the applicant files with the board a surety bond made payable to the board in the sum of Fifty Thousand Dollars ($50,000.00), conditioned to recover against the principal, by reason of wrongful acts of a material nature knowingly engaged in by the certified company in the conduct of its business. This surety bond shall be in the form, manner of execution and sufficiency as approved by the board.
(2) A bond executed and filed with the board pursuant to this act shall remain in force and effect until the surety has terminated future liability by notice to the board thirty (30) days in advance of termination.
(3) No certification shall be issued under this act unless the applicant files with the board evidence of insurance as follows: a policy of liability insurance providing the following minimum coverage:
(a) One Hundred Thousand Dollars ($100,000.00) because of bodily injury or death of one (1) person as a result of the negligent act or acts of the principal insured or the principal insured's agents, operating in the course and scope of such agents' employment;
(b) Subject to such limit for one (1) person, Three Hundred Thousand Dollars ($300,000.00) because of bodily injury or death of two (2) or more persons as the result of the negligent act or acts of the principal insured or the principal insured's agent operating in the course and scope of such agent's agency; and
(c) One Hundred Thousand Dollars ($100,000.00) because of injury to or destruction of property in the course and scope of such agent's agency.
(4) Every certified company shall at all times maintain on file with the board certificates of insurance and surety bond as required by this part in full force and effect, and, upon failure to do so, the certification of such contractor shall be automatically suspended and shall not be reinstated until an application, in the form prescribed by the board, is filed, together with insurance certificates and a proper surety bond.
SECTION 15. (1) The certification, when issued, shall be in such form as may be determined by the board and shall state:
(a) The name of the certified company;
(b) The name under which the certified company is to operate;
(c) The qualifying agent; and
(d) The number and expiration date of the certification.
(2) There shall be five (5) classifications of alarm systems contractor: "burglar alarm systems," "fire alarm systems," "monitoring," "closed circuit television" and "access control systems." Alarm systems contractors may be certified in one or more classifications.
(3) Following issuance, the certification shall at all times be posted in a conspicuous place in the place of business of the certified company. A certification issued under this act is not assignable.
(4) No later than December 31, 1998, all alarm systems contractors shall permanently display their certification number and license number on all advertising, service vehicles, correspondence, business cards, letterheads and the like.
(5) No certified company shall engage in any business regulated by this act under a name other than the certification name or names which appear on the certificate issued by the board.
(6) Any branch office of an alarm systems contractor shall be properly certified. A separate certification, stating the location and qualifying agent, shall be posted at all times in a conspicuous place in each branch office. Every business covered under the provisions of this act shall file in writing with the board the address of each of its branch offices. All certified branch offices shall notify the board in writing, within ten (10) working days after the establishment, closing or changing of the location of any branch office. A qualifying agent may not be responsible for more than one (1) branch office of an alarm systems contracting business. Each business location must be certified.
SECTION 16. (1) Each certification shall expire on the last day of the twelfth (12th) month following its issuance or renewal, and shall become invalid on such date unless renewed.
(2) Renewal notices shall be mailed ninety (90) days prior to the expiration date of the certification. Such renewal must be received in the office of the board prior to the expiration of such certification.
(3) It shall be the duty of the board to notify by mail every person certified hereunder of the date of expiration of such person's certificate of certification and the amount of fee required for its renewal for one (1) year; such notice shall be mailed in accordance with this section.
(4) Applications for certification and renewal of certification shall list all persons required to be licensed in accordance with Section 11(1) of this act.
(5) The fee to be paid for the renewal of a certification after the expiration date shall be increased ten percent (10%) for each month or fraction of a month that payment for renewal is delayed; provided, that the maximum fee for a delayed renewal shall not exceed twice the normal fee.
(6) No alarm systems contractor shall be qualified to receive a renewal certification when such alarm systems contractor has been in default in complying with the provisions of this act for a period of one (1) year, and, in such event, the alarm systems contractor, in order to qualify under the law, shall make a new application as in the case of the issuance of the original license.
SECTION 17. (1) The board is authorized to establish and charge reasonable application, certification, registration and license fees as follows:
(a) A nonrefundable application fee for a certification as alarm systems contractor;
(b) Upon approval of application, a certification fee;
(c) An annual renewal certification fee;
(d) Upon approval of the board of a qualifying agent's license, an annual license fee;
(e) A nonrefundable application fee to include the cost of an FBI/MHP background check for an employee registration; and
(f) A nonrefundable registration fee.
(2) The total amount of fees annually established by the board shall equal the direct and indirect anticipated expenses of the board for such year.
SECTION 18. (1) The board shall have the power to revoke or suspend any certification or license or renewal granted by it for any of the reasons stated in this section, or for a failure to observe the terms and conditions of any certification, license or renewal.
(2) The board may refuse to issue or renew a certification or license to any person, firm or corporation for lack of financial stability, misconduct, gross negligence, lack of expertise, submission of false evidence with regard to application of license or renewal, conviction of a felony, and any other conduct which constitutes improper, fraudulent or dishonest dealing or violation of this act.
SECTION 19. (1) The board may, when it deems appropriate, seek such civil remedies at law or equity to restrain or enjoin any unauthorized practice or other violation of this act.
(2) Any person, firm or corporation which engages or offers to engage in contracting without certification as required by Section 4 of this act, or who violates the terms and conditions of any certification, license or renewal thereof granted by the board pursuant to this act, shall be subject to a civil penalty of not less than Two Hundred Fifty Dollars ($250.00) and not more than One Thousand Dollars ($1,000.00) per occurrence. Any person, firm or corporation which engages or offers to engage in contracting without a certification as required by Section 4 of this act shall be ineligible to apply for such certification until six (6) months after such violation has occurred.
(3) In addition to revocation or suspension of a certification or license under Section 18 of this act, a civil penalty of not more than One Thousand Dollars ($1,000.00) may be assessed by the board against any person who violates any provision of this act, or any rule of the board adopted pursuant to this act. In determining the amount of any penalty, the board shall consider the degree and extent of harm caused by the violation.
SECTION 20. (1) Counties and municipalities are hereby prohibited from offering services as an alarm systems contractor to the general public except as follows:
(a) Counties and municipalities may provide those services that would normally be provided by alarm systems contractor for facilities that are wholly owned and occupied by that county or municipality; and
(b) Counties and municipalities may provide monitoring and/or response services to alarm systems when deemed in the best public interest; provided, that:
(i) No charge is made by the county or municipality for such service unless the county or municipality was charging for the service on or before July 1, 1997;
(ii) Use of local governmental services shall not be mandatory; and
(iii) Response by local law enforcement, fire fighters and/or other emergency personnel may not be conditional upon use of such services.
Notwithstanding any language of item (1)(b)(i) to the contrary, no county or municipality shall impose or collect any charge for responding to a false alarm occasioned exclusively by a violent act or nature.
(2) No county or municipality shall enact any legislation or promulgate any rules or regulations relating to the licensing of alarm businesses or alarm systems contractors required to be licensed under this act.
(3) On July 1, 1998, any provision of any legislation or rules or regulations of any county or municipality requiring the certifying and/or licensing of an alarm business or its employees shall be superseded by this act and no longer be effective.
(4) The provisions of this act are not, however, intended to and do not prevent the legally constitutional authority of any county or municipality by legislation, rules or regulations, and within the police power of such county or municipality, from requiring alarm businesses and/or alarm agents to register their names, addresses and license certificate numbers with the county or municipality within which they operate. Such county or municipality may also require that alarm business be given reasonable notice of termination of licenses and/or agents. No fee may be charged nor may any application be required by any county or municipality for such registration.
(5) Nothing in this act shall be construed to prohibit municipalities or counties from enacting and imposing penalties for false alarms; provided, that such penalties shall not exceed Twenty-five Dollars ($25.00) for each false alarm.
SECTION 21. (1) To allow initial implementation of this act without interruption of existing services by alarm systems contractors, no certifications, licenses or registration shall be required under this act prior to July 1, 1997. During this initial period, the board shall:
(a) Provide the necessary forms and procedures for registration and licenses;
(b) Receive and process all applications for initial registration and licenses; and
(c) Issue certificates of registration and licenses to initial applicants meeting the requirements of this act.
(2) Alarm systems contractors making application prior to July 1, 1998, shall demonstrate to the same action of the board the following requirements for issuance of certification. The alarm systems contractor shall:
(a) Be registered in the state and have a regular place of business at a permanent fixed location;
(b) Have a business license(s) for the city and county in which the business is located;
(c) Have been in the business of alarm systems contracting prior to July 1, 1998;
(d) Provide proof of insurance as required by Section 14(3) of this act;
(e) Provide surety bond as required by Section 14(1) of this act;
(f) Submit applications for licensing of a qualifying agent meeting the requirements of Section 11(5) of this act on forms provided by the board with license fees as required by Section 17(1) of this act;
(g) Submit applications for registration of all employees on forms provided by the board as required by Section 11(4) of this act, with registration fees as required by Section 17(1) of this act;
(h) Submit a notarized application for certification on forms provided by the board along with the certification fee as required by Section 17(1)(b) of this act.
(3) A qualifying agent making application prior to July 1, 1998, shall meet the requirements of Section 11(5) of this act and demonstrate to the satisfaction of the board the following experience qualifications:
(a) Not less than one (1) year of actual experience in the alarm systems contracting business nor the application for which application is made; and
(b) That the applicant is a graduate of a nationally recognized training program approved by the board.
SECTION 22. (1) Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary, all monies collected pursuant to this act shall be deposited in the State Treasury in a special fund to be known as the "Board of Alarm Contractors Fund."
(2) Disbursements from such fund shall be made solely for the purpose of defraying expenses incurred in the implementation and enforcement of this act.
(3) Any part of the Board of Alarm Contractors Fund remaining at the end of a fiscal year shall not revert to the General Fund, but shall be carried forward until expended in accordance with the provisions of this act.
SECTION 23. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 1997.