ASHI President-Elect Joe Corsetto, ASHI Legislative Committee Co-Chair Andy Kasznay, ASHI Legislative Committee member Hugh Kelso and I attended the National Conference of State Legislatures’ annual conference in Seattle, August 17–19, and met legislators from many states where regulation is being considered and legislators from states where regulation is already in place. We had the newly revised ASHI Position Statement on Regulation of Home Inspectors, July 2005 edition, and our goal was to get it into the hands of lawmakers concerned with inspector regulation.
Exhibiting at NCSL pays big dividends
This is the fourth year that ASHI has exhibited at NCSL, and it is becoming one of our most important legislative efforts, paying big dividends. NCSL is the bipartisan organization that serves legislators of the states, commonwealths and territories and their staff members. NCSL provides research, technical assistance and opportunities for policy-makers to exchange ideas on the most pressing state issues.The organization is an effective and respected advocate for the interests of states in the federal arena.
Opportunity to reach 6,000
Each summer, NCSL brings together approximately 6,000 state legislators and their staff members, state and federal agency personnel and government relations managers from corporations, associations and special interest groups for its annual meeting, the largest and most substantive gathering of its kind in the nation. The exhibit hall had 325 booths. In the past, speakers included the president of the U.S., congressional leaders, cabinet members and experts from universities, think tanks and the private sector. More importantly, the NCSL annual meeting is known as the place to be if an organization is concerned about a legislative issue.
Steady stream of legislators talks about inspection bills in their states
There was steady traffic at our ASHI booth. As we spoke with visitors to the booth, we would discover they were the sponsors of inspection bills in their states or were preparing to introduce legislation. We also had lobbyists pick up copies of the position statement.
California, Delaware, Kansas, Utah, Florida, Nebraska and Hawaii all are states currently considering regulation. At least one legislator from each of these states stopped by, took a copy of the position statement and discussed important aspects of good regulation with us. We can't overestimate the value that these contacts may have for the future of the profession in these states.
Florida provides model for grass-roots success
Florida is an excellent example of what ASHI influence can accomplish. For the last four years, we’ve talked to Florida lawmakers and staffers at NCSL and this year, Governor Bush vetoed a terrible bill that Florida ASHI membership opposed. In fact, a grass-roots e-mail campaign, initiated by the ASHI Suncoast Chapter, prompted a Bush staffer to pick up the phone and ask chapter leaders why they opposed HB 315. Now, the governor has asked all interested parties to start working on legislation that is meaningful and that will win support. The Florida lawmakers we met this year commented on the recent events, and they discussed the pros and cons of HB 315 and what the future holds.
Legislators learn how to improve ranking
Some legislators were interested in the grading system used to rank state home inspection regulations. They wanted to know why their state was not rated “good” or, in some cases, “acceptable.” This was an opportunity to go over our position statement and to point out where their laws were lacking. Maybe they needed stronger standards of practice or maybe their exam wasn’t valid. Perhaps the education or experience requirements were lacking. The report card made it easy to see what a state would need to change in order to improve, and we urged them to revisit their rules and regulations. After all, laws aren’t written in stone; they are living documents that can be improved.
Committee connects contacts with local ASHI membership
Many people dropped off business cards so we could follow up with them and provide support or additional information. The Legislative Committee members will be putting our new contacts in touch with the ASHI membership in their states. That’s how we are building a grass-roots effort in all the states so that ASHI has a seat at the table.
The work the committee did at the NCSL meeting will pay huge dividends in the future as we get the message out about the importance of good regulation if regulation is appropriate. Thanks to all who attended and worked so hard for ASHI. We’ll do it again next year in Nashville.