By Guy Page
The House Tuesday will consider Gov. Phil Scott’s veto of H157, the construction contractor registration bill.
Sponsored by weatherization advocate Rep. Scott Campbell (D-St. Johnsbury), H157 creates a state registry for all contractor jobs of $3,500 or more. Covered work includes virtually all currently unlicensed carpentry, plumbing, electrical, paving, roofing building, weatherization, wastewater, and all other interior or exterior contracting work.
The bill requires paid registration, insurance of at least $300,000 coverage per job, and written contract offers for every job. It allocates funds for two state employee “advisors” to help the contractors comply with the law.
The bill also creates a ‘voluntary’ contractor certification program because “wide dissemination of information on codes, standards, and training is vital to improving construction techniques throughout the State’s construction industry. Since building thermal conditioning represents over one-quarter of the State’s greenhouse gas emissions, improving energy performance is a key strategy for meeting the requirements of the Global Warming Solutions Act.”
Campbell is a member of the Legislature’s Joint Carbon Emissions Reduction Committee. He has extensive professional experience in the not-for-profit weatherization sector. According to Campbell’s legislative biography, he “directed the Weatherization Program for CVOEO in Burlington for nearly 12 years, and most recently designed and directed 3E Thermal, an energy upgrade program serving affordable apartment housing throughout Vermont, for nearly 10 years.”
The bill passed the house 82-45 on January 19, well short of the 100 votes needed to override a veto. However, some members of the Democratic/Progressive majority who voted against the bill on Jan. 19 may be pressured to support the majority’s veto override efforts.
Presented as a bill to protect homeowners from unscrupulous contractors, H157 was vetoed Thursday by Gov. Scott because it “has the potential to undermine and weaken a large number of Vermont’s small businesses – small, local residential contractors – at a time when we all agree we must prioritize new and revitalized housing.”
Specifically, Scott said H157 “favors larger and more established businesses at the expense of small entry-level businesses by imposing, by law, specific contract and insurance requirements that many of the smaller businesses will not be able to meet. Such specific requirements are rarely, if ever imposed on other professions. Ultimately, these provisions harm small businesses – which could lead to closures – and they harm consumers through higher costs and fewer options for making needed repairs.”
The House also is scheduled to vote on H628, amending a birth certificate to reflect gender identity. Placed on Tuesday’s “notice calendar” for a vote later in the week is H556, exempting property owned by Vermont-recognized Native American
tribes from property tax.