Hundreds Of Locksmiths Face New Regulation

Wednesday, March 21st 2007, 10:24 am

By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Oklahoma locksmiths are facing a March 31 deadline for complying with a law requiring them to register for licenses as part of an effort to protect the public.

Applicants will be required to have a background check, prove their technical qualifications and pay an annual licensing fee.

The Health Department, which administers the licensing, says the new requirement will affect about 2,000 individuals and 500 companies, including those involved in the installation and servicing of security systems.

Some locksmiths complain about the expense of complying with the law.

``It's extortion,'' said Lyle Dieckmann, owner of Mayfair Key & Lock Shop. ``We're being put over a barrel here, and some of the licensing is unfair. It's cheaper in other areas of the country than it is here, and really, we didn't have any choice.''

Dieckmann, who employs eight people, said his main concerns were the licensing costs being too high _ he paid more than $400 _ and never having an opportunity for his voice to be heard.

``As far as it being fair, it was voted on, it was passed, and there weren't enough people involved committeewise so that you could assemble something that was fair to all,'' he said.

Vernon Bolz, director of state Health Department occupational licensing, said the new requirements are needed.

``I can tell you I have attended meetings in Oklahoma City, McAlester, all over and the vast majority of the people I have met with have expressed that they've been trying to get locksmith licensing passed for years,'' Bolz said.

``This is not something that the Health Department asked for. This is something the industry proposed to the legislature.''

Mike McGrew, president of the Oklahoma Master Locksmith Association and owner of Mike's Locksmith Shop Inc. in Bartlesville, said his organization began to explore licensing locksmiths to eliminate ``people who had no business in a security position.''

``Locksmiths today are not tinkerers, they're social professionals, and they have a lot of responsibility to keep people safe,'' McGrew said. ``I don't want a sex offender going into my kid's house if there's not some form of background check.''

Similar licensing requirements exist in about 15 other states, including Texas and Arkansas, and more states are passing licensing requirements, Bolz said.

The initial licensing fees are $250 for each company, $200 for the manager and $75 for each technician. Renewal fees are $250 for the company, $100 for the manager and $35 for technicians.

Those who submit applications and fees by March 31 will begin receiving licenses July 1, McGrew said.

Anyone who does not comply will be subject to a fine of $200 per offense. A company employing an unlicensed technician may be fined $100 for each person and each occurrence.

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