A new bill that would mandate smoke detectors for the entire country’s homes passed the Senate on Wednesday, giving lawmakers a major boost to their efforts to tackle a national epidemic.
The Smoke Detector Safety and Insurance Act, which was introduced by Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), would force manufacturers of smoke detectors to provide them with software that could automatically turn off the devices if they detect smoke.
The bill also would require manufacturers to upgrade their smoke detectors annually to stay up to date with the latest technology.
If you don’t have a smoke detector, you’re in danger.
And we need your help.
https://t.co/gHbV5lW7mQ — Bill Cassidy (@bill_cassidy) May 17, 2021The legislation would also allow states to set their own requirements for devices.
The states could opt to require a minimum of three hours of battery life, or a two-hour battery, or either a standard 60-hour life, which would be much shorter than current law, or two-hours of battery.
Under the bill, states would also be able to set up an online database to track devices and alert authorities if they malfunction.
The legislation, which passed the House in May, also would allow the states to waive existing penalties for failing to meet safety standards.
The bill passed the full Senate with just two Democrats opposing it, Sens.
Rand Paul (R, Ky.) and Ron Wyden (D, Ore.).
Paul is a vocal proponent of mandatory smoke detectors.
“We have an epidemic, and we’re doing nothing about it,” Paul said at the time.
“We need to take a stand.”
The bill faces a tough fight in the Republican-controlled Senate, where Republicans control the majority.
Cassidy has said he would not vote for the bill.
Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) told The Associated Press that he believes the bill is necessary to tackle the issue of widespread smoke in homes.
But he added that he is concerned about how the bill would affect the states’ ability to enforce it.
Nelson said he will work with other lawmakers to pass the bill on the floor of the Senate, but he said it is unlikely that he will support it.
“I’m not sure what my role will be in the Senate,” he said.
“It’s hard to predict.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.