Legislation

Senate votes 20-10 to register construction contractors

by the Ethan Allen Institute

H157, registering construction contractors, passed the Vermont Senate 20-10 on May 21.

Purpose: To mandate that construction contractors register with the State and conform to certain regulatory requirements in order to legally do business on residential homes in Vermont.

Analysis: H.157 requires anyone who engages in a residential construction job exceeding $3500 in labor and materials with work including but not limited to, interior and exterior construction, renovation, and repair; painting; paving; roofing; weatherization; installation or repair of heating, plumbing, solar, electrical, water, or wastewater systems, to register with the Office of Professional Regulation, and to enter into a written contract with the homeowner before receiving payment or beginning work.

In order to register, an applicant must show proof of liability insurance coverage at the minimum levels of $300,000.00 per claim and $1,000,000.00 aggregate, and pay the following fees at initial application and biennial renewal: (1) Registration, individual: $75.00. (2) Registration, business organization: $250.00. (3) State certifications: $75.00 for a first certification and $25.00 for each additional certification.

Anyone failing to comply can be subject civil penalty for “unauthorized practice” which, according to 3 V.S.A. 127 (c), “In addition to other provisions of law, unauthorized practice shall be punishable by a fine of not more than $5,000.00 or imprisonment for not more than one year, or both.”

Those voting YES believe this bill will help prevent fraud and provide consumer protection when fraud occurs, and create a mechanism for the state to communicate with residential contractors about compliance with existing and future environmental building regulations.

Those voting NO believe the cost of this bill exceeds any potential benefit. (Between 2012 and 2017 there were only 587, not all of which would be covered under this law, consumer complaints with total losses to homeowners of $3.1 million. That’s a $620,000 a year problem, for which H.157 will create an estimated $740,000 annual cost in registration fees, plus other costs to businesses and consumers to comply with contract mandates, etc., decreased supply of contractors, not to mention the social cost of criminalizing handshake deals between homeowners and workers. Mechanisms already exist for consumers to seek redress for poor or fraudulent actions by contractors without expanding the state bureaucracy.

As Recorded in the House Journal, Tuesday, May 21, 2021: “Thereupon, the proposal of amendment of the Committee on Economic Development, Housing and General Affairs, as amended, was agreed to and third reading of the bill was ordered on a roll call, Yeas 20, Nays 10..” (Read the Journal, p. 1257).

Watch the floor debate on YouTube.

Related:

Roll Call! House Criminalizes “Handshake” Deals for Residential Construction Projects over $3500These roll call reports are designed to help citizens understand how their elected representatives vote on key issues. The bills may or may not eventually become law. Click on the link to the bill page at the top of this post for an up to date status on the bill.

HOW THEY VOTED

Becca Balint (D-Windham) – YES
Philip Baruth (D-Chittenden) – YES
Joseph Benning (R-Caledonia) – NO
Christopher Bray (D-Addison) – YES
Randy Brock (R-Franklin) – NO
Brian Campion (D-Bennington) – YES
Thomas Chittenden (D-Chittenden) – YES
Alison Clarkson (D-Windsor) – YES
Brian Collamore (R-Rutland) – NO
Ann Cummings (D-Washington) – YES
Ruth Hardy (D-Addison) – YES
Cheryl Hooker (D-Rutland) – YES
Russ Ingalls (R-Essex-Orleans) – NO
M. Jane Kitchel (D-Caledonia) – YES
Virginia Lyons (D-Chittenden) – YES
Mark MacDonald (D-Orange) – YES
Richard Mazza (D-Chittenden-Grand Isle) – NO
Richard McCormack (D-Windsor) – YES
Alice Nitka (D-Windsor District) – NO
Corey Parent (R-Franklin) – NO
Chris Pearson (P-Chittenden) – YES
Andrew Perchlik (D-Washington) – YES
Anthony Pollina (P/D-Washington) – YES
Kesha Ram (D-Chittenden) – YES
Richard Sears (D-Bennington) – YES
Michael Sirotkin (D-Chittenden) – YES
Robert Starr (D-Essex-Orleans) – NO
Joshua Terenzini (R-Rutland) – NO
Richard Westman (R-Lamoille) – NO
Jeanette White (D-Windham) – YES

Categories: Legislation

10 replies »

    • Not initially. As passed, the bill seems to cost the state money (typical). There is little in the bill written for dispute resolution and non code compliant work. There is a prominent paragraph that instructs the Office of Professional Regulation to conjure up some training requirements, with a focus on “green” building. Whatever that might mean to group of two, chosen to make up the rules.
      This bill hides under the guise to provide consumer protection and it may, for some. For the rest of you, it promises to add costs to even the smallest home projects- $3500 doesn’t buy much at a lumberyard currently- while requiring more control over your project by the state. This has the potential to explode into a compliance program much like Burlington requires for every building project.

  1. THE NEW registration law will cost ,me on Social Security to have to pay more of my meager savings for ANY project that I might have. Many businesses may LEAVE Vermont rather than Homage to the STATE. THUS< some contractors may go UNDERGROUND with their work for cash ONLY.

  2. Another Tax on Vermonters. When do we say “NO MORE – GET THE BUMS OUT OF OUR LEGISLATURE”?! What the heck is wrong with the majority of the so-called elected reps. (who are NOT representing us) voting in our Legislature, are they infantile, have a limited brain capacity to think properly, I mean really!

  3. It is so hard to own a business in Vermont. Do these Senators want businesses to leave the state for greener (less legislation) pastures? Two of my Senators voted “No’. Senator Hooker, perhaps you can answer my question.

  4. These “clever” legislators think they are protecting Vermonters by putting more oversight on contractors, but in reality they will just drive these businesses into the underground economy where even fewer consumer protections exist. However, I will gladly pay a contractor cash under the table to circumvent the efforts of these demoKKKrat control freaks.

  5. Once again, big govt. creating unnecessary rules and regulation to justify their continued existence….The saying of “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” seems to bring out an impulse in them to break everything.

  6. When this bill first passed the Senate in 2019, it was a bill promising consumer protection, but more accurately, protecting the homebuilder’s guild aqainst unwanted competition from “little guys”.. But in the hands of Rep. Scott Campbell, it became another tool to combat the menace of climate change. Once mandatory registration is in place, the forthcoming Climate Action Plan will require energy standards whether they effect cost savings for the home owner or not.The next step will be Campbell’s bill (H.719, 2020) to make sale of a residence impossible unless it has been improved to defeat climate change, like scrapping gas and oil heat in favor of so called “cold climate” electric heat pumps.. .Wait and see. (See my column linked below).

    • We have to work against these disastrous bills that will ruin the middle class. The end result is that they don’t want a middle class, only poor and the elite. This has to stop. We have to fight back. We must stand for common sense, get the bums out of our legislature. The People of Vermont should already be fed-up with being bullied from our so-called elected officials who are hurting rather than helping. There needs to be accountable and justice for their actions. They need to be censored, expelled, fired. They are not holding up the Vermont Constitution and are injurious to the People of Vermont. The majority of them are infected with Progressivism, Socialism, Marxism. God Help Vermont.

  7. It’s not a bad thing. Do you know how many people are killed in construction accidents every year. This is a way for OSHA to keep an eye on people violate laws they get people hurt, killed or maimed

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