On Tuesday, 3/2/2010 The Contractor Coaching Partnership attended a meeting at the University of Massachusetts Shrewsbury location on the EPA RRP Lead Rule. Please excuse the long post but there is a lot to report.
The Department of Safety and the State of Massachusetts is seeking approval from the EPA to administer and enforce the EPA Renovate, Repair and Painting Rule. This industry changing rule goes into effect on 4/22/2010. The DOS assembled a board including the Commissioner of the Department of Safety and heard comments from the attendees.
Present at the meeting were Nancy Barmankian and Jim Bryson from the EPA Region 1 headquarters in Boston, Patty Sutcliff and Ernest Kelley form the Division of Occupational Safety and Robert Camacho, President of the Mass Federation of Building Officials.
Joining myself were Shawn McCadden and EMNARI President Greg Antonioli and other industry professionals. There were approximately 25 people total.
The forum allowed individuals who wanted to testify, the opportunity to comment on the state take over of this rule.
I testified that the state take over would only be successful if it included the assistance of the local building or health inspector. I stated that professional legal contracting companies who comply with the law, will be economically damaged if black market contractors are allowed to work illegally in the state. I stated that the black market construction industry included three groups;
1. Contractors who operate without the proper licensing, registration and insurance.
2. Undocumented immigrants and the companies who use them.
3. Municipal workers in our cities and towns who moonlight under the radar outside of their public positions.
I argued that contractors who are allowed to work with out the fear of penalty will pose great economic hardship to all professional contractors who do the right thing and play by the rules. Current consumer pressures are forcing homeowners to look at the cheapest price and hire the illegal contractor. Illegal contractors pose great risk to homeowners and employees performing unsafe work and many times telling homeowners to get their own permits.
Mr. Camacho stated that he would be glad to support the change provided that his inspectors are given the tools, financial support and proper authorities that can be counted on when they discover a violation.
The board stated that there are 20,000 contractors that are effected and will need to be certified. I stated (my best educated guess) that the number is way off and is likely closer to 150,000 for the State of Mass. The state is probably not counting all the trades and companies that fly under the radar.
I read three comments from contractors who posted to this blog on Monday night to let the state know how contractors feel about this law. The main concern for professional contractors is that they will comply and will have to compete with the underground contracting trades who will not.
The Contractor Coaching Partnership agrees and is on a mission seeking equal and fair enforcement of this law in every city, town, borough and village in the entire state of Massachusetts. I plan to work with the EPA, DOS, and Mass Federation of Building Officials to achieve this outcome.
The next step is to bring all the parties together in one room. I am happy to report that we have successfully arranged for this to take place.
On 3/23/2010 The Contractor Coaching Partnership has been invited to speak with the Mass Federation of Building Officials at the monthly board meeting. I understand that this meeting will include board members from the MFBO who represent building officials throughout the State of Massachusetts. I have invited the EPA and DOS to join us. I am excited and grateful to Mr. Camacho for this opportunity to begin the process of working together to find a way to create a level playing field. The goal of The Contractor Coaching Partnership is this; to require that any permit given in the state of Massachusetts on a property built before 1978 also require an EPA Certified Renovator and Firm License.
If you haven't noticed, I am very passionate about this matter and it drives me every day. I am tired of the lack of enforcement that is so rampant in our state that allows the black market construction industry to operate with impunity. It is time for a grass roots effort that includes all officials to rid the state of illegal contracting even if it means we have to tell the local fireman and teacher moonlighting on the side that they must become totally legit or stop working on the side for cash.
Lastly, I stated that something should be considered to dissuade homeowners from hiring illegal contractors. I suggested that maybe a fine against the homeowner filed on their tax bill may be a good place to start.
So fellow contractors, friends and readers of this blog do you think there is anything else I should do? I am just getting started.