State Representative Debbie Riddle
Room EXT E2.208
P.O. Box 2910 Austin, TX 78768
(512) 463-0572 (512) 463-1908 Fax
3648 F.M. 1960 West
Houston, TX 77068
(281) 537-5252 (281) 537-8821 Fax
This letter represents a continuation of the conversations we have had in the past. I’m posting it to my blog, as I have with previously forwarded material. It thereby becomes an open letter, available to the general public and more especially, those in the locksmith industry to whom I will forward this article.
I recently completed the required state mandated 8 hours of Locksmith related material, to include the obligatory 1 hour Ethics class. I have mentioned the disconnect between what the State of Texas legislators have seen fit to mandate, the DPS/PSB middlemen and the actual business of individual or combined locksmith.
I have been involved in the locksmith industry since 1976, owned and operated my own locksmith business since 1978, the same year I became a member of the Associated Locksmiths of America. For some reason none of that is important, or so it would seem, as the 7 hour course of study I took on Saturday February 28, 2008, that oh so important requirement to be “continually educated” or lose my license and ability to make a living here in Texas, that course of study was met by listening to a fellow locksmith teach me about basic automotive locksmith work, work which I have done for the past 30 plus years. While it’s nice to visit and compare notes with my fellow competitors, learn how one accomplishes a job and “shoot the breeze”; paying a junior locksmith $ 125 to sit in his class, one who’s been at it for less than ten years and probably learned as much from me as was taught to the rest of the class, that I find unacceptable.
While I’m at it, the mandatory Ethics class, that same class which I take every other year is more than an insult. Any child reaching the age of 8 knows the difference between right and wrong. I might go so far as to agree that the Ethics class information is valid and should be included on the very first application to receive a locksmith license; however, people don’t forget the difference between right and wrong, they decide not to include ethics when dealing with others. A good example would be a quick study of our representative form of government; but my purpose is not to alienate, rather I would explain alternative means whereby those who make the laws might be more in tune with those who must satisfy the letter of those laws.
My first recommendation would be to write a provision into the law which provides for recognition of locksmiths who have a track record, a reasonable extension or courtesy which would exempt long standing members of the locksmith industry from certain aspects of the renewal of their locksmith licenses. The original stated purpose of the law requiring locksmith licensing was to protect the public from fly by night scoundrels flying under the radar, those who would take advantage of an unsuspecting public and apply the limited knowledge of locksmith work as if they had earned the public’s trust.
I submit that any locksmith who has been able to obtain a locksmith license in the State of Texas has provided the necessary litmus test which would pass for “earned the public trust”. The renewal of locksmith licenses would then be hinged on whether or not that locksmith has met the requirement of being insured; not that being insured makes anyone a better locksmith, it is a requirement and thereby should be reviewed at the time of renewal.
I’m not sure how the provision of “continuing education” got thrown into the renewal of locksmith licensing other than it “seemed like a good thing” to those attempting to justify licensing of an industry. Those who are capable of making a living with the level of skills they currently are “masters of” and are licensed have proven their ability in their field of choice; the likelihood of forgetting all the information, skills and accumulated knowledge, that which they use on a daily basis, to forget the basics to the point of having to be re-educated yearly or even every five to ten years goes beyond absurd.
The idea of mandating anyone to learn aspects of an industry for which that person has no interest and has no plans of becoming involved, regardless of the expanded definition and scope of the overall industry for which he could or might wish to enter is just as absurd. I happen to be a licensed locksmith and could, by law, work in any area of the locksmith industry to include commercial installation of security networks, camera security, computer security, lock installation and automotive locksmith work. I happen to work only on automotive locksmith work; leaving the other aspects of my field to competitors who center their skills in those other areas of the industry.
If I wanted to work on IC lock master key work and installation I would learn the details and become expert enough to engage in that field; but I have no interest in that end of the locksmith industry nor do I claim to have the skills, charge an unsuspecting public for those skills which I do not have or pretend that I have them. You could say the Ethics Class made me a true believer; but I think I was already a basically honest person before I took the mandated class.
Some “pencil head”, a person or persons, with the power to make me jump rope in order to obtain and/or renew my locksmith license believes I need to expand my skills through mandatory continuing education courses geared to the locksmith industry, in order to keep or maintain skills I already possess and use to earn my living; this is illogical. Not only is it illogical, it is impertinent to presume I would pretend to an unsuspecting public that I could, for example, install camera surveillance security systems under the all encompassing cloak of my legitimate state issued locksmith license. Such a venture would be impractical and dishonest, much less a fiasco since I am not trained in the skills associated with such an undertaking.
Here’s what should be included in an updated piece of legislation as would apply to individuals who already have a locksmith license:
Continuing Education provisions should be directed to those with 6 years of locksmith experience or less. Locksmiths with 7 years or more should only be required to expand their documented continuing education when and if they branch off into a field of interest for which they have not previously applied themselves, and then it would be a matter of self interest rather than the other way around, mandated by the state. Locksmiths with 15 years of experience should have the requirement of continuing education eliminated from the renewal process. As stated earlier, the Ethics class requirement should be a one time only issue and not part of the renewal process.
The provision to validate a minimum level of insurance, while I object to the state becoming involved in such civil matters, it would seem to be a “necessary evil” and thereby would be a continued requirement for a renewed locksmith license.
There should be a provision limiting the DPS/PSB from expanding the powers to implement rules and regulations without an equal input from each individual locksmith; you will note that I didn’t say locksmith associations, from each individual locksmith who falls under the laws, rules and regulations which are to govern his/her livelihood.
Presently, in order to make a statement, one which would reach the ears of those few in charge of the locksmith industry, an individual locksmith has to take time away from his/her business and appear before the board, an unjustified and expensive undertaking. It has been my experience NOT to trust the leadership of the ALOA or the TLA in matters which go before the state legislature, their having thrown my particular opinion out with the bathwater on major issues which have affected my industry. It is the DPS/PSB who should have the requirement of speaking directly to each individual locksmith to ensure that it is government serving the people rather than the people becoming servants of their government.
I got a note in the email section of an article, Go Texan Days, a “rant” I posted to my blog on the day I was to attend my mandated continuing education classes. Here’s the URL which links with my article along with aportion of the comment which would apply to the renewal of licensing for any field.
“*heh* My Wonder Woman was going through something similar with her teaching certs about every other year until the state rep pushed her last one through in recognition of her accomplishments/contributions--it's now on a 99-year renewal. It's not what you know or how competent you are any more; it's ALL about who's in your pocket.”
While the commenter suggests some sort of black or covert under the table sort of “tack on legislation” in order to help a friend of the elected official, “it's ALL about who's in your pocket”; I would counter that such a “99 year renewal” clause written into locksmith legislation would be the type of extended courtesy for which all veteran locksmiths might be considered worthy, recognition in the form of legislation no different than honoring a soldier returned from service to his nation, state and citizenry
As always, I look forward to hearing your views.
A valued registered voter
T. F. Stern