Todd Smith: Building bad bills

By Todd Smith | The Caledonian Record

Rep. Scott Campbell, D-St. Johnsbury, is well on his way to his longtime goal of putting sweeping controls and penalties on Vermont’s building contractors and the homeowners they serve.

Campbell’s two most important bills in the previous session of the House were “creating a state enforcement mechanism for building energy standards and minimum competency requirements for building contractors” (H.534); and blocking the sale of a single-family residence not certified as being in compliance with strict energy standards (H.719).

Todd Smith

Todd M. Smith is the publisher of the Caledonian Record.

Neither of these bills moved forward, but Campbell is back with a version “to create a framework for registering construction contractors.” This is offered as a way for the state to supply useful information and assistance to the contractors and their customers.

Rep. Mark Higley, himself a contractor in Lowell, sees through it. He says that “registration is de facto licensing, which will lead to higher costs and fewer contractors.”

H.157 leads with a requirement that “a person shall register with the Office of Professional Regulation prior to contracting with a homeowner to perform residential construction in exchange for consideration of more than $2,500, including labor and materials.” That means “to build, demolish or alter a residential dwelling unit, or a building with four or fewer residential dwelling units,” in Vermont and “includes interior and exterior construction, renovation, and repair; paving, roofing, weatherization, installation or repair of heating, plumbing, electrical, water or wastewater systems”…. and whatever else the Office of Professional Regulation adds later by fiat.

The bill says mandatory registration is not licensure, but failure to register is an “unauthorized practice.” There are 26 varieties of “unauthorized practice” already in the law, and violations of any of them call for a $5,000 fine. There is a $50 fee in 2023, to offset the cost of the two new employees needed to administer the mandatory registrations, and presumably chase down non-compliers.

We don’t think there’s any doubt these bills lead directly to mandatory licensing; compulsory energy standards; a bureaucratic apparatus for determining contractor competency; blocking the sale of homes until they have hired a licensed contractor to make homes conform to high standards; and added expense for homeowners and taxpayers.

We think this is all way too much government. It will raise costs to build, reduce contractors, and impose legal jeopardy on the few who remain. It will entangle contractors in the threatening grasp of yet more state bureaucrats, and it insults the idea that free people have enough sense to choose their own contractors and get what they bargained for.

H.157 has emerged from committee and will soon be voted upon in the House. It’s a good time for homeowners and builders to tell their legislators that they can see where this is heading, and they’d prefer not to go.

Todd M. Smith is the publisher of the Caledonian Record, where this editorial first appeared. He lives in St. Johnsbury.

Images courtesy of Wikimedia Commons/Public domain and Todd Smith

9 thoughts on “Todd Smith: Building bad bills

  1. Each one of these reinventings of the wheel – no matter the size or seeming innocuousness – is marching towards the globalist Great Reset of mass tyranny and totalitarian control. The VAT tax proposed in VT is a part of how to finance all of this. We are being crushed under the weight of corporate and governmental overlords. The legislation flying out of the wood work all reflect the New Not-Normal. Legislation flying out of the woodwork reveals a differing part of the same puzzle.

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  2. It is unfortunate that Legislative leadership in Vermont is ignorant of Vermont law, as well as legislators such as Campbell. Someone in leadership should have told Campbell his bill proposal is redundant to current law regarding construction and remodeling, thru regulations enforced by the Division of Fire Safety.
    Electricians, Plumbers, Gas and Oil burners- even Chimney sweeps are licensed by DFS. There are also continuing education requirements in place for license renewal. Many cities also have their own inspection divisions, Burlington, South Burlington, Colchester, Barre are but a few.
    His bill is but an attempt to add regulation and Green New Deal propaganda to Vermont.
    Of greater concern is Campbell’s desire to regulate conveyance of properties, unless they meet his energy specifications. That doesn’t pass muster and should alarm all property owners. To meet some as yet unspecified goal to be able to sell your home is unacceptable and reeks of Big Brother.
    Someone should clue Campbell in- VT DFS has an inspection program for 2 unit housing and larger, prior to sale. DFS has an inspection program for new construction as well. All of his proposals are irrelevant for anything other than a single family, owner-occupied dwelling- and the legislature has never had the will to change that fact.
    If Campbell is so enamored with the level of regulation in his former state of Maryland, perhaps he should return there. If he stays in Vermont, he should learn the current laws, before adding ignorant and redundant legislation.

  3. I am only 1/3 of the way through Thomas Sowell’s book Basic Economics. It is written so even Scott Campbell can understand it. Based on the book, the only thing that this bill will do is raise prices and reduce availability and efficiency. Let the market place decide what it wants. This whole thing sounds just like what they did in the Soviet Union and they collapsed their entire economy. The portions that have talked about rent control are real eye openers. This is one of the great failures of the western governments.

  4. Where is Todd Smith from? A Vermonter or flatlander? Why does everybody think they need to reform us? They all need to look in the mirror, they are not perfect.

    • It is Scott Campbell that is the problem. Todd Smith wrote the article. Anyway, your point is well made. These people must stay awake at night trying to think of things to tax and regulate. Who I contract with to work on my buildings is my damned business and not the state’s. I am so sick of these communists, fascists and socialists trying to control every tiny aspect of my life. Yet those same control freaks ALWAYS claim Republicans want to control your life. What a crock!!!

    • Justfacts.votesmart indicates that, like so much of the crud in Montpelier, Campbell was born in Maryland. Another flatlander come to save us all from ourselves!!!!!!!

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