April, 2008

Inspection News and Views from the American Society of Home Inspectors

ASHI's Legislative Committee is on the Job for You


Legislation that regulates home inspectors is a vital concern for ASHI. Your national society takes no positions for or against any particular state bills. Positions and actions can be taken only by chapters and members in the states affected by introduced legislation: You know the market conditions and the issues concerning public safety and the integrity of the profession.

ASHI has great interest in providing tools and assisting you in every way possible as you navigate the tricky currents of the legislative stream. Action depends on knowledge.

Your most valuable resource is ASHI’s  Legislative Committee (LGC), a blue-ribbon brain trust of 12 veterans, led by Charter ASHI Member Marvin Goldstein, with a combined 168 years of ASHI membership among them. The committee members have been in the trenches with legislators, regulators, lobbyists, the special interests, and friends and foes of ASHI. They’ve seen it all and want to share with you the good, the bad and the ugly.

One of the committee members’ primary duties will be to help you monitor bills in your state. Each LGC member has volunteered to take a region of the country and to stay on top of bills and changes to existing laws.
Here’s the breakdown:

Charlie Sessums, Charlie@alphainspection.com, Gulf Region (Texas, La., Miss., Ala. and Fla.)

Don Lovering, lovering@earthlink.net, New England (Maine, N.H., Vt., Mass., R.I. and Conn.)

Fred Heppner, fghepp@aol.com, Mid-Atlantic (Md. and Va.)

George Harper, georgeharper22@gmail.com, Pacific (Wash., Ore., Calif., Nev., Alaska and Hawaii)

Gregg Harwood, gregg@professionalhome.com, N.Y./N.J. (N.Y., N.J. and Del.)

Jay Balin, jbalin@wi.rr.com, Midwest (N.D., S.D., Minn., Iowa, Wis., Ill. and Mich.)

Joe Kelly, hdisme@verizon.net, North Central (Ind., Ohio and Pa.)

Kurt Salomon, kurt@inspectutah.com, Mountain (Mont., Idaho, Wyo., Utah, Colo., Ariz. and N.M.)

Randy Sipe, randy@familyhomeinspections.com, Midwest South (Neb., Kan., Mo., Okla. and Ark.)

Tore Knos, tore@champia.com, South Atlantic (Ga., S.C., N.C., Tenn., Ky. and W.Va.).

Feel free to contact them or me, Bob Kociolek, bobk@ashi.org, with questions or concerns. 

How to track legislation in your state

But the LGC can’t do it all. You have work to do, too. ASHI provides online tools for state members and chapter leaders to find and follow legislation that affects home inspectors. Here’s how ASHI members can be informed and armed.

ASHI’s Legislative Action Center is the place to start

The first stop is ASHI’s Legislative Action Center (LAC), www.homeinspectorregulation.com. Now you can find your state in the State Elected Officials drop-down menu and select it. This takes you to your state legislative action center, where you can see if HQ has posted any information about bills in play.

A real-life example

We know that Washington ASHI members are avidly following a licensing bill, SB 6606, introduced in their state. [Note: By the time you read this, the session will have adjourned.] You can read a brief description and more by following the links. You can also see, by scrolling over the Statehouse icon, that the Washington legislative session ends on March 13. That’s good to know. Any action you may want to take, for or against this bill, will be up against this time restraint. The closer it gets to the end, the faster you can anticipate actions.

Next, enter your zip code in the box next to “Enter your ZIP code to find your representatives,” (try Washington zip 98117) and you’ll see your elected representatives, along with links for contact information.

It’s a good idea to sign up for your state’s newsletter if it has one, so you can stay on top of updates from the legislative sessions. You’ll also want to sign up for the newsletters of the sponsoring legislators.

This page will give you rosters and contact information for Senate and House committees.

SB 6606 is sponsored by Senators Spanel, Kohl-Welles, Honeyford, Prentice, Murray and Rasmussen. The bill was first heard in the Labor, Commerce, Research & Development Committee. The chair of that committee is Senator Kohl-Welles. Staying in contact with her and subscribing to her newsletter, if she has one, would be a good way to stay on top of this bill.

Now, let’s go back in time. Let’s say it’s January 14 and the Washington state session has just convened (you know this by scrolling over the statehouse icon). Immediately thereafter, you’ll want to check the Washington state legislative Web site to see if any inspector licensing bills have been introduced. You can get to it by going to the LAC and following the steps above to get to the “WA Officials and Agencies” page. (You can also find it by Googling “Washington state Legislature.”) Now you are going to go off the ASHI LAC and onto the official Washington Web site by clicking on the link right next to the Governor’s icon.

Once here, you’ll look around to see what will get you to the legislative pages. “Find News from the State Legislature” looks promising; click on it and you’re in! Click on the “State Legislature Bill Information” tab and then enter the key words “home inspector” in the Search box. What do you know, SB 6606 pops up. Click on the bill link to read a history of action. Other links will show you the bill itself and reports.

To make your life easier, I created an excel spreadsheet you can access that provides three important links for each state. You can find it on the ASHI Web site, www.HomeInspector.org, under legislation.

The state legislature home page tells you what the site has to offer. If there’s a FAQ page, I highly recommend you read it.

A link to a page that should let you keyword search for bills. Here, you’ll enter “home inspector” or “home inspection” or “residential inspection,” etc., anything you think will return useful information. If there are bills of interest, bookmark the pages and keep a list of the bill numbers.

E-mail notifications or bill tracking links to a page that offers tools to track bills as they are winding their way through committees, hearings and votes, eventually to passage, death or other action.

Follow that bill!

Washington state’s legislature Web site has a feature called “E-mail Notifications.” Minnesota’s Web site has a link called “My Bills.” These are services that allow you to set up an account and track specific bills. Look at the Comments column to get an idea what your state offers. If your state’s site doesn’t offer something like this today, keep checking to see if it’s added.

Washington state’s Legislature Web site is user-friendly. While not all state Web sites are equal, yours is the place to go to stay on top of inspector bills in your state. If you have any trouble finding what you need, please contact me at bobk@ashi.org and I’ll help you.

ASHI’s Legislative Committee and staff have your back legislatively. But we can’t do it all. Enlightened self-interest is your best motivator.

Visit ASHI’s Legislative Action Center at www.homeinspectorregulation.com.