June, 2009
From the ASHI President.
Inspection News and Views from the American Society of Home Inspectors

Whirlwind Washington Tour Continues


As promised last month, there’s more to report from my whirlwind tour of our nation’s capital with Randy Pence, ASHI’s lobbyist. As I’m writing this, I just learned about his success in getting language included in the Predatory Lending Bill that would bring the good word on  home inspections to millions.

You may remember that on Wednesday of our Washington, D.C., tour, we met with U.S. Rep. Nydia Velazquez, who Randy credits with championing this legislation. We’ll keep you up to date on the progress of this bill.

Photo: Left to right: ASHI President Bill Richardson, U.S. Rep. Nydia Velazquez and ASHI lobbyist Randy Pence

On Thursday, we shifted focus from Capitol Hill to federal agencies and downtown Washington, D.C., with meetings at HUD, IRS/Treasury and a coalition on small business health care issues.

Success at HUD

Our meeting with HUD was to discuss the HR4776 housing counseling amendment to see if we could obtain HUD’s buy-in on it. We were able to get that buy-in and received some good feedback with only minor changes to the wording. We were also able to discuss who would be the person for ASHI to contact concerning opportunities related to the housing recovery programs. ASHI members can assist with the recovery program through detailed inspections of distressed properties.

IRS – Give us a break

Our IRS/Treasury meeting was to discuss the home office tax deduction with the staff attorney who is tasked with writing proposed tax language for consideration by Congress. We were able to explain how difficult and unreliable the existing home office deduction is and how small businesses, like home inspectors, need new language to reduce our chances of having it denied in an audit. This would benefit all who work from home offices. The IRS had not considered that home inspectors need their offices mainly for administration, as our work is in the field. The IRS might consider some of our comments to modify the “exclusive use” requirement and to address that much of the work performed by legitimate home-based businesses is conducted outside the home.

Strength in numbers

The small business health care coalition in which ASHI participates is made up of many associations, all working toward the goal of legislation that benefits and supports small business and their concerns. We share concerns for the growing costs and lack of availability of affordable health care plans, and we take a joint message to Capitol Hill favoring small business pooling arrangements that could help us with both problems.

It’s all about respect

During my visit to D.C., I observed how legislators and other lobbyists react with Randy, showing him respect. He has helped both in addressing issues. ASHI is fortunate to have such a well-respected professional working with us. I found out during this trip that most legislation is developed with the input from lobbyists; therefore, how effective the legislation is depends on the lobbyist’s knowledge and contacts.

An insider’s view

If you ever have the opportunity to go to D.C. and spend some time behind the scenes with an insider, you will have a much different view of government. Randy and other professionals like him do not work at the same pace as the rest of us; it is a constant race with the clock. Meetings are scheduled in minutes and seconds. You must be prepared and succinct in your presentations. I would not last; I like a much slower lifestyle. I am very glad I got to go and appreciate what Randy showed me, but it is good to get back to my reality.