Creating mqtt_room payloads from automation

I’ve been trawling the forums and google this past couple weeks trying to assemble some room presence functionality out of existing relays that I have that are equipped with esp32 chips. I’ve compiled a custom binary of the tasmota32-bluetooth bin to include ibeacon.
I’ve set up a sensor that sets the UID of a iBeacon as its state when it pings
I’ve set up an automation that confirm that a message hits the topic and that the state of the sensor is my UID, here I publish 3 mqtt messages, one sends a command to the tasmota console to set the alias of the current device mac as my selected string (rotating macs on android), another generates what I believe to be an accurately formatted mqtt_room json payload, and third a payload to the topic that simply states connected

For some reason, I just cannot get the mqtt_room sensor ive made to recognize any payload data and set the sensor to present or home.

I can provide configs but I’m hoping I just have a misunderstanding of what mqtt_room is expecting in a payload to set the sensor to the correct state.

Everything makes it to the mqtt broker and I can see them in MQTT explorer

here’s a bit of the configs:
configuration.yaml>sensor: from !include sensor.yaml

- platform: mqtt_room
  device_id: "xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx-0064-0001" 
  state_topic: "/home-assistant/garage/bench/mqtt_room/device"
  name: "BenchDevice"
  unique_id: "BenchDeviceBLE"
  timeout: 5
  away_timeout: 120

configuration.yaml>template: from !include tsensor.yaml

- sensor:
  - name: "GarageBenchDISTANCE"
    unit_of_measurement: "M"
    state: >
      {% set GarageRSSI = states('sensor.garagebenchrssi') | float %}
      {{ (((-59-(GarageRSSI))/(10*2)))**10 }}

configuration.yaml>mqtt: from !include msensor: (one of these exist for each attribute of the iBeacon mqtt payload)

  - name: "GarageBenchiBeaconID"
    state_topic: "/home-assistant/garage/bench/tele/SENSOR"
    value_template: '{{ value_json.IBEACON.UID }}'
    json_attributes_topic: "/home-assistant/garage/bench/tele/SENSOR"
    json_attributes_template: '{{ value_json | tojson }}'

mqtt payloads via automation:

service: mqtt.publish
  qos: 0
  topic: /home-assistant/garage/bench/cmnd/blealias
  payload_template: "{{ states('sensor.garagebenchmac') }}=Device"
service: mqtt.publish
  topic: /home-assistant/garage/bench/mqtt_room/Device
  payload_template: |-
      "id": '{{ states('sensor.garagebenchibeaconid') }}-{{states('sensor.garagebenchmajor') }}-{{ states('sensor.garagebenchminor') }}',
      "name": '{{states('sensor.garagebenchname') }}',
      "distance": '{{states('sensor.garagebenchdistance') }}'
service: mqtt.publish
  topic: /home-assistant/garage/bench/mqtt_room/Device
  payload_template: CONNECTED