5 January 2009
Hello To All Montana Inspectors,
Here we go! We’re heading to Helena again to propose a bill to register Home Inspectors here in Montana.
Some news and a request …
Unexpectedly, very recently we lost our sponsor. Teresa Henry, who provided such wonderful support and guidance to us and sponsored our bill two years ago, has moved up in the governmental process and is now serving on the House Appropriations Committee. A big job and one she chooses to focus on.
She has helped us find a new sponsor. Sue Malek, HD 98, has agreed to be our primary sponsor. In addition we may have a co-sponsor. So now, we’re ready to roll!
Our bill is the same as presented during the last legislature. There are a few details that need to be edited but the bill is essentially the same.
Let me offer some history … I want to share some thoughts on why the bill did not pass during the last session. The last session, a contentious one, saw our bill tie in the House “Business and Labor Committee”. There were 14 people on this committee. 7 voted “yes”. 7 voted “no”. There was a perception by some of the legislators on the committee that home inspectors as a group were not all on the same page in support of this bill. It was believed by some that inspectors from Billings could not support the bill we were proposing for a reason not clearly defined.
Although this was not true, this mis-understanding was the perception by some in and around the committee. Sometimes life is all about perception. And that perception made it easy for some folks to shy away from supporting us. Better safe and not pass this bill than take the risk of passing something that might generate negative vibes from constituents or that didn’t have unanimous support from all home inspectors.
Our error. We did not understand this issue until well through the legislative process and by then it was too late to adjust and correct. During the past year and a half we have met with the personalities involved and clarified issues.
Please understand that most legislators are new to the whole process of home inspection. And for some, the work of home inspectors and our proposed legislation is not where their attention is. They may only know what they have learned within several weeks or months prior to this bill’s presentation before Committee. And besides, they have very full plates just now. So what’s most important in this process is for all of us to take (and make) the time to connect with them. By stepping their way, sharing with them and answering their questions about what we are doing, we are working with the folks who will be asked to vote “yes” or “no” on our bill.
This is the most important single thing for you to do now if you want to see this bill passed. Find out who your legislator is and let them know what you think. Call her or him and visit for a few minutes. Let them know your thoughts on this bill and why you think this way. Legislators listen to their constituents. If you can’t find a way to visit in person or by phone, write this person a letter or send them an e-mail. And do this now. The Legislature convenes tomorrow. If you want this bill to pass, this is the most important single thing you can do.
The second piece is to set some time aside to be in Helena at the committee hearing when this bill is considered. Offer your testimony on this bill. Check your e-mail for a notice on when the committee will meet to consider this bill. I am committed to letting you all know when and where. We will want to have as many warm bodies at that committee hearing as possible. Sharing your voice is what this process is all about. And having you there in that room to let them know where you stand is important. If you want their vote, this is what it will take.
This is the toughest part. We may not know the exact meeting time until just a few days before. But I will do my best to get this information to you as soon as we know.
I hope to line up at least one person from each of the following areas, Billings, Missoula, Whitefish/Polson, Butte, Great Falls, and Bozeman, to sponsor a car to “pool” a group of 4 inspectors from each community to the hearings. If we can put 20 folks there on the day of the committee hearing, I’ll bet we can get this thing passed. This is the second most important piece you can offer.
If you can commit to drive a group of four let me know. Tom and Larry and I can do the organization on this end if you want some help. Call around in your neighborhood and line up a few people who would be willing to join us and testify. The process is simple. But the commitment is necessary if we’re going to get this legislation seriously considered.
A comment on democracy here in Montana … as much as we appreciate the support of several national groups in our process, this issue requires a local decision and commitment. This bill will likely be made or lost by the energy and willingness of Montana inspectors to connect with their legislator and volunteer a visit to Helena at the committee hearing. This is what good governance is here. We don’t all have to agree on all the details but we do need to speak with a common voice. We are all connected. Without your involvement, we could fail again. We are a small group of professionals and so every voice is significant. If you don’t take the time to speak or write, we could again be relegated to the back of the bus.
And I do believe this decision should be made by us. We are the folks who live here and will need to live with this law when it takes effect. At one point several years ago, our proposed legislation failed because two national associations struggled over an argument that was important to them and perhaps less so to us here. And we all lost in the end.
Please be thoughtful on this issue and visit with your elected representatives, both House and Senate. Let your voice be heard.
To our members … I have a short info sheet available on request. You can print it off, attach your name to it and spread it around. REALTOR’S are always at the top of my list!
Should you have questions don’t hesitate to check in. My cell is 406.581.0833.
Montana Association of Real Estate Inspectors / MAREI