April, 2007
Legislative News
Inspection News and Views from the American Society of Home Inspectors



Arm Yourself or Harm Yourself–How to Track Legislation in Your State

BOB KOCIOLEK

Legislation that licenses or otherwise affects 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 only be taken by chapters and members in particular states affected by introduced legislation: you know the market conditions and the issues concerning public safety and the integrity of the profession.

You can read more about this in ASHI's official Position Statement on Regulation of Home inspectors. In addition to outlining the minimum requirements that any legislation purporting to protect the public must contain, the Position Statement rates the existing 31 state regulations.

How to track legislation in your state

ASHI has a 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.

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

Start at ASHI's Legislative Action Center (LAC). You can get there by logging on and clicking through Resources and then Legislative Action Center. Or, you can click here and bookmark the page.

Now you can click on the State Officials icon and select your state from the map, or use the scroll down menu to 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 controversial licensing bill, SB 5788, introduced in their state. If you go to the Washington state page and scroll over the Statehouse icon, you learn the Washington legislative session ends April 22. That's good to know. Action for or against this bill is up against this time constraint. The closer it gets to the end the faster you can anticipate actions.

Next, click on WA Officials and Agencies to search for state-elected officials and legislation affecting inspectors. Also, click on Washington State Legislative Directory. Enter your zip code (try this WA zip 98117) to see your elected representatives, along with links for contact information. If they offer newsletters, it's a good idea to sign up, so you will receive updates from the legislative sessions. You'll also want to sign up for the newsletters of the legislators, who are sponsoring home inspection-related bills. This page also will give you rosters and contact information for Senate and House committees.

SB 5788 is sponsored by Senators Spanel, Brandland and Kohl-Welles. 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. Say it's January 8 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 there by downloading this Excel spreadsheet and scrolling down to Washington. (All 50 states and the District of Columbia are listed.)

The spreadsheet provides three important links for each state.

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

  2. 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.

    On the Washington state page, type home inspector. What do you know, SB 5788 pops up.

  3. 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 MyBills. 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 now offer something like this today, keep checking to see if it's added.

Washington's State 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.