Originally Posted By: Lorraine Hutton
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Please allow me to introduce myself. My name is Lorraine Hutton. I am VP of Operations/Regulatory Compliance of a home inspection firm located in Hunterdon County NJ. I, along with the owner of the firm, as well as a number of other NJ Home Inspectors, have been working with various members of the NJ Legislature for well over a year on amending the existing home inspection licensing law. I would like to take this opportunity to provide information to those who may be interested on the current state of affairs regarding home inspection licensing in NJ.
I had initially intended to post this on InspectionNews.com, since apparently there has already been quite a bit of discussion on this issue on that particular message board. However, more than a few people have advised me that there is a very strong chance that this presentation would be edited on InspectionNews.com, since I do not believe that a factual presentation of the current state of affairs with home inspection licensing in NJ can be made without reference to ASHI. Since the references to ASHI may be construed by some as being unflattering to ASHI's image, I was advised to post my assessment of the current situation on this board if I wished to avoid censorship.
In posting here, I am hoping this will prove to be the vehicle by which to reach all of those home inspectors, both in NJ as well as other states, who are opposed to the current licensing debacle in NJ, and who would like the opportunity to join together with others to work toward legislation that benefits the consumer, and not just the home inspector. It is my belief that the NJ legislation is indeed the harbinger of things to come for the entire home inspection profession throughout the country, if those who oppose such legislation fail to make a concerted effort to mobilize as a unit and make themselves heard. The following outlines the situation, as I know it. Thank you in advance for taking the time to read it.
As some of you may be aware, the New Jersey Home Inspection Professional Licensing Act, signed into law in January of 1998, has been determined to be a flawed piece of legislation by the original sponsor, Assemblyman Anthony Impreveduto.
In recognition of this fact, he proposed an amendment (A567) that would have rectified many of the existing problems with the original Act, the most egregious of which sanctions unlicensed practice. The Assembly Regulated Professions and Independent Authorities Committee passed this amendment unanimously on 1/9/03; on 2/13/03 the same Committee voted to unanimously to combine A567 with S1685, a Senate bill.
On 2/24/03 it passed the Assembly. In the Senate voting session on 2/27/03, S1685/A567 was Received In Senate 2nd Reading On Concurrence. There has been much debate about exactly what that means; apparently it can mean more than one thing, depending upon the "interpretation".
Senator Garry Furnari originally introduced S1685 as a bill in June of 2002 when it became apparent to him that there were serious problems with the grandfather provision of the law, since the rules to effectuate the Act were not promulgated until four and half years after the law was signed by then Governor Whitman.
There were a few different versions of S1685, one of which would have allowed a Home Inspector to qualify for licensure under the grandfather provision if they had completed 400 home inspections for a fee prior to 6/03/02, regardless of the number of years one had been in the practice of home inspection.
Regardless, the version of S1685 that went through the normal legislative process, and still existed up until about 4:00 PM on 3/20/03, was the version that had been combined with A567, inclusive of all of the amendments added by Assemblyman Impreveduto, with a few minor modifications.
At about 4:30 PM, we were told that there had been a meeting, inclusive of a representative of ASHI (an ASHI Legislative Agent was present outside the Senate chambers earlier in the day) and the result of this meeting was that all of Assemblyman Imprevedutos amendments had been removed.
We were told that the bill that would pass the Senate vote was the Senator Furnari bill that had already passed the Senate in October 2002, except with one change; the grandfather date would be moved out from June 3 2002 until June of 2004.
That is indeed exactly what did happen, so apparently our source had provided correct information.
At this point in time, the legislative website has not yet been updated with the version of S1685 that did indeed pass. Hopefully it will be updated within the next few days, reflecting the change in the date to qualify under the grandfathering provision. In addition, this bill still has to pass the Assembly, since it is dramatically different than the version of S1685 that passed the Assembly in February. The next Assembly session is not until May 15; then, if it does pass, it must be signed by the Governor in order to become law.
Sources indicate that the chances are very good that the Assembly and the Governor will approve. In addition, at this point in time, my understanding is that the eliminated amendments may not be introduced again in this year's session due to time constraints. This now provides some breathing room for all concerned to undertake a massive legislative education campaign.
It is clear that ASHI influenced the Senate action on 3/20/03. However, it is unclear exactly how that impact was achieved. I hear that there has been much back patting among those who personally lobbied to oppose S1685, who believe that the Senate vote was the direct result of their concerted effort to disseminate incorrect information regarding the amendments, some of which bordered on being nothing short of alarmist.
However, it is my opinion that these antics played little, if any part, in the final decision.
This is evidenced by the fact that ASHI apparently felt that they needed to utilize the services of a Legislative Agent, as well as the fact that nothing at all changed until the involvement of that ASHI Legislative Agent, immediately prior to the bill coming up for a vote. In addition, there were additional political dynamics indigenous to the legislative process that may have inadvertently served as an ideal setting for ASHI's Legislative Agent to attain her goal.
At this point in time, I believe that all things considered, because of our efforts, ASHI as an organization was forced to do a number of things that I am certain that they would not have needed to do otherwise. I think it would be prudent for all to review exactly what it appears as if ASHI National was forced to do because or our involvement in this cause:
A) Forced to make expenditures in excess of $30,000.00 in compensation for lobbyists.
B) Forced to openly support their chapters in lobbying for legislation that sanctions unlicensed practice.
C) Forced to openly support their chapters in lobbying for legislation that creates a monopoly for ASHI
D) Forced to admit that their own "model legislation" and "position" on licensing requirements is not their true position or true idea of model legislation.
E) Forced to admit that they condone limiting the growth of the home inspection profession by openly and actively lobbying for legislation that requires an aspiring home inspector to rely upon his competition for training.
F) Forced to lobby for legislation that defies their own Code of Ethics.
G) Forced to admit that they fully support the NJ ASHI Chapters position on the Home Inspection Professional Licensing Act, voiding their denials to the contrary.
H) Forced to accept a change in the grandfather date six months beyond the 12/03 date that Assemblyman Impreveduto's amendment called for.
If just a handful of Home Inspectors (and myself) were able to move this 800-pound guerilla to this extent, just imagine what hundreds, if not thousands can do?
I assure each and every one of you, that ASHI is most certainly emboldened by this small victory.
They will most assuredly continue to pour money, time and resources into becoming the entity that controls the Home Inspection profession in this country, simply because it is the only chance that they have of maintaining their membership numbers even at the present level; membership without which they would cease to exist. As we all know it to be, it will be the survival of the fittest.
They know this, which is why they will understandably make every effort to survive. Some of you may have even heard of their new campaign, called "Branding". An excellent concept, but also a clear indication that they recognize the very pressing need to be pro-active in every way in order to maintain their ability to dominate the legislative process of licensing Home Inspectors throughout the country.
One only needs to research both existing and pending legislation for the profession. When viewing the requirements, whether they involve board appointees, testing, training, SoP or CoE, it becomes glaringly apparent that there is one acronym that predominates. Left unchecked, it will be the ONLY acronym synonymous with the profession.
It is up to each and every Home Inspector to choose for himself. If you choose the right to remain independent, you have no choice but to become active in doing so now. Those interested please post or email me at CSCompliance@aol.com with any ideas and/or suggestions on how we can unite for this common cause.
Thank you for you time.