in the State House of Representatives
on April 6, 2021, by a vote of
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, April 6, 2021: “Shall the bill be amended as recommended by the Committee on General, Housing, and Military Affairs, as amended? was decided in the affirmative. Yeas, 97. Nays, 52." (Read the Journal, p. 593 – 596).
Watch the floor debate on YouTube.
How They Voted
(Click on your Rep’s name to send an email)
Sally Achey (R - Middletown Springs) – NO
William Lippert (D – Hinesburg) – YES
Curtis McCormack (D – Burlington) – YES
Kirk White (P/D - Bethel) – NO
Rebecca White (D – Hartford) – YES
Dane Whitman (D - Bennington) – YES
Terri Lynn Williams (R - Granby) – NO
Theresa Wood (D – Waterbury) – YES
David Yacovone (D – Morristown) – YES
Michael Yantachka (D – Charlotte) – YES