Home Inspectors Licensing Bill Passes House
For several years, there has been an effort in Pennsylvania to license home inspectors in the same way other professions are (i.e. establishing a licensing board, gaining experience, passing an examination, etc…). During each of the last 3 legislative sessions, PSPE has actively provided written testimony on the bill and lobbied to make sure that it does not infringe on engineering. This year the bill, House Bill 1001, has passed the House and could receive action in the Senate. The current legislation includes provisions that PSPE urged legislators to amend in to the bill. Here are a few excerpts that address our concerns:
“ General rule.
(1) An individual may not practice home inspection or hold himself or herself out as a home inspector unless licensed by the board except for the following:
(i) An individual licensed as a professional engineer under the act of May 23, 1945 (P.L.913, No.367), known as the Engineer, Land Surveyor and Geologist Registration Law.”
“Relationship to other laws.
(a) General rule.–Nothing in this act shall be construed to allow a home inspector who is not licensed under one or more of the following laws to perform any activity that would constitute the practice of the profession regulated by that law:
(1) The act of May 23, 1945 (P.L.913, No.367), known as the Engineer, Land Surveyor and Geologist Registration Law.”
House Bill 1001 also requires that at least one of the home inspectors board members is a licensed engineer or architect. And it makes clear that discipline for a licensed design professional that performs a home inspection is handled by his or her respective licensing board. Based on the inclusion of these provisions, PSPE is neutral on the bill but continues to monitor it. Presently, the bill resides in the Senate Labor and Industry committee.
House Debates, Amends Shale Tax Bill, Adjourns Before Final Action
The state House met for one week in November, ostensibly to make good on an agreement made with moderate, mostly Southeastern members for their support of an earlier House version of a revenue plan in exchange for a promise of a vote on a Marcellus Shale severance tax. Nearly 400 amendments were filed to the bill, HB 1401, and after two full days of consideration, only 7 were adopted, with many more still not withdrawn by sponsors. Rather than keep at it all through the Thanksgiving holiday, the House adopted a motion by Rep. Brandon Neuman (D-Washington) to adjourn for the week. The House resumes session on December 4. It is unclear how the House leadership, and in particular Speaker Mike Turzai, will proceed with the issue, and finalize a bill to send to the Senate, where Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman has already stated that anything that comes out of the Senate will have some environmental regulation changes as a part. Stay tuned.
Speaker Turzai Announces Special Elections to Fill Vacancies
Due to a number of different reasons, two state House seats formerly held by Democrats will be filled in special elections in the coming months. In the 133rd district, Democrat Jeanne McNeil will seek to succeed her late husband, Rep. Dan McNeil, who passed away suddenly over the summer. She will face Republican acupuncturist David Molony, who ran against Dan McNeil previously, and Libertarian candidate Samantha Dorney. The election will be held on December 5.
Speaker of the House Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny County) has also ordered a special election be held on Tuesday, Jan. 23, to fill the vacant seat in the 35th Legislative District in Allegheny County. The vacancy was created by the Nov. 6 resignation of former Rep. Marc Gergely (D-Allegheny). Candidates for the office will be selected by a process designated by their respective political parties, and the winner of the special election will take office after the results are certified.
More Special Elections involving House members will come early next year, in addition to the impending primary and general elections, in which all 203 House seats, the even-numbered State Senate seats, the 17 US House seats, one US Senate Seats and the Governor and Lt. Governor will stand for election. In Western PA, Republican state Rep. Rick Saccone (R-Allegheny) will face Democrat Conor Lamb in a special election to succeed former Congressman Tim Murphy, who resigned earlier this year. That election will occur on March 13, 2018. Saccone beat out three other candidates, including fellow Rep. Jason Ortitay and state Sens. Kim Ward and Guy Reschenthaler for the Republican nomination. Some or all of those legislators, and maybe others, may still file petitions to run in the Republican primary next May for the seat. The filing deadline to run for the seat, maybe coincidentally, is the day of the special election.
Finally, perhaps, there will also be a special election called to fill the future vacancy of Democratic Rep. Brandon Neuman (D-Washington), who won a county judgeship this past month. That date has yet to be determined, as Neuman has not yet resigned, but likely will when his new job begins in January. There are rumors of other members of both chambers considering early exits as well. We will monitor and report those as they happen.
House Policy Hearing Focuses on the Cost of Government Overreach, Overregulation
State lawmakers from across Pennsylvania traveled to New Holland November 28 to hear how Lancaster County job creators are being handcuffed by the cumbersome, costly and complex regulations imposed by state agencies. Led by House Majority Policy Committee Chairman Kerry Benninghoff (R-Centre/Mifflin) and Rep. Dave Zimmerman (R-Lancaster), the legislative hearing featured testimony from local business owners and members of the Lancaster-area agriculture community about how government overreach and overregulation is costing them, and ultimately costing the local economy.
The hearing is part of the Policy Committee’s agenda to grow and strengthen Pennsylvania’s middle class. Over the course of several hearings this fall, the committee will hear from Pennsylvania residents, community leaders and businesses on how state government can best assist them, and when to get out of their way, as they undertake efforts to create jobs and improve, prosper and strengthen our communities.
Testifiers included: Gerald Martin, Gerald G. Martin & Sons Excavating & Trucking; Calvin Ewell, H.R. Ewell Inc.; Alfred Wanner, Wanner’s Pride N Joy Farm; Travis Eby, M.H. Eby Inc.; and Gustavo Rendon, Superior Plastic Products.
State Registration Board for Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors and Geologists November 8 Meeting Highlights
The State Registration Board for Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors and Geologists met on November 8 in Harrisburg. Following are the highlights.
- Board President Theodore Tesler, PG, welcomed Board members and guests, and thanked them for their service. He acknowledged the guests and invited them to share any concerns. Ted Mowatt reported on the status of HB 1106, on behalf of PSPE and PSLS. Tesler than reported on the ASBOG meeting he had attended.
- Board Prosecutors Robert Armour and Mark Zogby reviewed 4 Consent Agreements for deliberation in Executive Session, and noted the Board had scheduled two hearings with licensees later in the meeting.
- BPOA Commissioner Ian Harlow did not attend the meeting. Deputy Commissioner Kathy Waters explained the new Executive Order issued by the Governor. The EO charges all of the Boards in BPOA with reviewing their laws, fees and regs to make sure they are not unduly burdensome on licensees, while carrying out their public protection purposes. A commission will be formed comprised of volunteers from various Boards, who will meet and compile a report, which will be sent to the Governor for his review and possible further action, starting sometime next year.
- Board Administrator Terrie Kocher introduced Amanda Li, who will be assisting the Board.
- Board Counsel Neil McConnell was unavailable, so Tom Blackburn reported on the status of cases, and noted that Atty. Juan Ruiz has been reassigned to another Board. The Board held two hearings.
- Regulatory Counsel Tom Blackburn noted there was nothing new on the long-awaited Seals regulation, but asked the Board to discuss the new NCEES Model language, and presented a revised “Annex”.
Next meeting is January 10, in Harrisburg. Future 2018 meeting dates: March 14, May 9, July 11, September 12, and November 14.
The following bills of interest to PSPE have been introduced and/or acted upon in the past month.
Budget Related Bills
HB 1401 RE: Shall Tax (by Rep. Gene DiGirolamo, et al)
Amends the Tax Reform Code providing for volumetric severance tax; and making a related repeal.
5 Floor amendment(s) adopted, 11/20/2017
2 Floor amendment(s) adopted, 11/21/2017
Environmental Building Standards
HB 1486 RE: High Tunnels (by Rep. David Zimmerman, et al)
Amends the Storm Water Management Act, further providing for definitions and for effect of watershed storm water plans. The bill defines “high tunnel” and establishes when a high tunnel shall be exempt from provisions. It also states that any municipality that has adopted a local ordinance or regulations that regulates high tunnels following a watershed storm water plan prior to the effective date shall amend the ordinance or regulation to comply with the subsection.
Received in the Senate and referred to Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, 11/1/2017
HB 1001 RE: Home Inspector Licensing Act (by Rep. Sue Helm, et al)
Licenses and regulates home inspectors; provides for funds, for licensure, for disciplinary action, for remedies and for penalties; and repeals provisions relating to home inspections. Also modifies provisions relating to manufactured housing liability and disclosure.
Received in the Senate and referred to Senate Labor and Industry Committee, 11/1/2017
HB 1905 RE: Reduction and Expansion of Sales Tax
Amends the Tax Reform Code, in sales and use tax, further providing for definitions, for imposition of tax and for computation of tax, repealing provisions relating to exclusions from tax and further providing for alternate imposition of tax and credits and for transfers to Public Transportation Assistance Fund; and, in special taxing authority, further providing for special taxing authority. The bill reduces the sales and use tax rate to 1.9 percent, extensively revises definitions, and removes exclusions. Provisions regarding publication of notice in the Pennsylvania Bulletin are effective immediately and the remainder is effective upon publication of notice.
Copies of all bills of interest can be accessed via the Internet at: http://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/legis/home/session.cfm