Editor’s note: This commentary is by Deb Billado, chairwoman of the Vermont GOP.
When was the last time you hired a handyman or a contractor? Seriously think about it for a moment. It probably wasn’t all too long ago. Whether it’s minor repairs or a home renovation, it’s not uncommon for us to call a friend of a friend or look someone up online to help us fix our homes and businesses.
But, the Montpelier majority is not content with that. You see, they want to make it as difficult as possible for you to find someone on the free market to fix a door or repair your shed.
In H.157, the state of Vermont would require most contractors to:
- Purchase at least $1 million worth of liability insurance;
- Register with the state for the first time ever and pay new registration fees every single year;
- Spell out a written contractor for every single task over a certain dollar amount, no matter how minor the project might be; and
- Be subject to thousands of dollars in penalties for violating a single one of these provisions.
So if you need an old friend to lay down some flooring in your bathroom, watch out: he’ll be breaking Vermont law if he doesn’t abide by every single provision in this bill.
Oh, and this bill provides $200,000 in new funds to the Secretary of State’s Office so they can hire more bureaucrats to enforce the law.
How does this help with our goals of lowering barriers to joining the workforce, or making housing more affordable? Answer: it doesn’t. In fact, it stands in direct conflict with these goals.
Low-income contractors who are just struggling to make ends meet might not be able to afford to comply with all these provisions. This legislation leaves them behind.
This is absurd. As Senate Minority Leader Randy Brock, R-Franklin, noted, it’s simply “another administrative monster.” To be clear, this legislation affects all Vermonters — Republican, Democrat, or Independent — by raising the cost of living and doing business.
Thankfully, more than 95% of Vermont Republicans in the Legislature stood together in opposing it this past legislative session. But the Vermont Democrats are sure to try to ram it through anyway when the Legislature reconvenes in January.
And that’s not their only goal: they’ll try to pass a new rental registry too, which I’ll talk about in next week’s chair letter as part 2 of “regulation nightmare.”