On July 16th, the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation (OCABR) hosted a Public Comment Session attended by the EM NARI Government Affairs Committee. The session was convened in response to Executive Order 562 issued by Governor Baker on March 31st. This Executive Order directs all state agencies to review current regulations to ensure coordination between agencies and avoid unnecessary regulatory burden.
As part of that review, the OCABR is reviewing the Home Improvement Contractor (HIC) Program and the associated HIC Guaranty Fund. Specifically, the office is examining the following regulations and asking for public comment.
At the session, Jim Lavallee, President of EM NARI and Chair of the Government Affairs Committee, requested an extension to the commenting period to allow time to share information and gather feedback from EM NARI members. In response, Joanne Campo, Deputy General Counsel, OCABR, offered an extension to August 1st for receiving public comments.
On behalf of EM NARI members and the professional remodeling industry, the Government Affairs Committee submitted a written request that the OCABR consider the following changes to the HIC Program:
Comments Regarding 201 CMR 18.00 through 18.06: Registration and Enforcement of Home Improvement Contractor Program
1. The purpose of the Home Improvement Contractors License Program is to protect homeowners in the state. The Program also protects individuals working in the industry by ensuring that certain standards for safety and fair practice are met. Therefore, it is our position that several of the exemptions from the HIC Program requirement be removed.
We requested removal of Certain Exemptions from the HIC License Requirement including:
2. We requested that the OCABR consider accepting application and renewal fees for the HIC Program via credit card or form of electronic payment. The certified check or money order payment restrictions create an undue burden for applicants.
3. We requested that the OCABR remove the social security number requirement from the application.
4. We requested that the OCABR reinstate the waiver of the fee for companies holding a CSL (Construction Supervisor’s License) that was abolished pursuant to the 2009 change in law (Section 80 of Chapter 27 of the Acts of 2009). HIC Applicants who hold a CSL would only be required to pay the Guaranty Fund fee.
Comments Regarding 201 CMR 14.00 through 14.22: Home Improvement Contractor Arbitration and Guaranty Fund
1. We requested that the semi-annual report by the Fund Administrator as described in 14.20 (4) be made available to the public for inspection on the state website.
2. We requested that the OCABR include in their semi-annual report, information about the timeliness of process for homeowners making a claim under the Fund.
3. We requested that the OCABR include in their semi-annual report, a list of contractors who have not reimbursed the Fund for claims made against them by homeowners.
Government Affairs Committee Member, Matt Pelrine, shared the following resource for your review:
HIC PROGRAM LAW: https://malegislature.gov/Laws/GeneralLaws/PartI/TitleXX/Chapter142A
The Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation will be reviewing the comments submitted and will schedule a follow up session for further comment. Our Chapter Government Affairs committee is monitoring the activity and will continue to participate in the review process.