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2-13-18 Sunrise Review Hearing Update

02/13/2018 6:19 AM | Denis Bourbeau

Office of Professional Regulation (OPR)

Discussion of Sunrise Assessment: Home Improvement and Construction Contractors

The Sunrise Review from the Secretary of State’s Office of Professional Regulation has been completed on the home improvement/builder industry. It recommends mandatory registration for providers of home-improvement services, which include work done in or on residential homes, and voluntary state-backed certification. The yearly fee for registration would be $100. Certification standards will have to be developed. Registration licenses are “licenses” and consequently could be publicly warned, conditioned or revoked by the Office of Professional Regulation in the event of misconduct: “Registrants are answerable to civil and criminal process, are insured, and are compliant with other state law and obligations, such as child-support, taxes, judgment orders and, where applicable, the presence of workers’ compensation insurance.”

Witnesses:

    Colin Benjamin, Director, Office of Professional Regulation, Secretary of          State's Office 

Gabe Gilman, General Counsel, Secretary of State's Office

  Christopher Curtis, Chief, Public Protection Division, Attorney General's Office

    Representative Mark Higley, House Committee on Agriculture and Forestry

  William Badger, AIA Vermont

  Sandra Vitzthum, self

  Maureen Connolly, Executive Officer, Home Builders Association of Northern Vermont

        Jim Bradley, HBRA

        Robyn Steward, Director, Building Trade Association of Vermont

        Carol Miklos, Executive Director, AIA Vermont

Maureen Connelly and Jim Bradley spoke on behalf of HBRA in support of voluntary certification and registration, but opposed the notion that a builder would be forced to register. They also offered the much needed perspective of the homebuilder who is taken advantage of by a home owner, and brought up the possibility that education, not registration, would be key to mitigating harm in this area.

Rep. Mark Higley testified in opposition of mandatory registration, calling it a “slippery slope toward full licensure”.

Some key arguments by witnesses in support of mandatory registration:

            - The report from the AGs office states that the program “received 587 consumer complaints about home-improvement services, with claimed losses exceeding $3.1 million.”

            - AIA representatives testified to the damage they have seen left by sloppy home builders. Most of the complaints they spoke of either fell well below the threshold and would be small claims, OR were of a criminal nature.

NEXT STEPS:

We are working with HBRA National to offer the educational component of certification in Vermont.

We will continue to monitor and weigh in when necessary.

The Sunrise is not slated for discussion this week.



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