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Home Builder exempted from using licensed roofers
Saturday, 02 March 2013

Critics call roofing legislation a job killer
A bill in the state Senate would require roofing contractors to be licensed and regulated for the first time inTexas...Legislators say the bill, which exempts new construction, would help consumers... a substitute bill is being written that is "a little less stringent."

 

Houston Chronicle
Critics call roofing legislation a job killer

 

 

 

By Nancy Sarnoff

March 1, 2013

 

 

 

A bill in the state Senate would require roofing contractors to be licensed and regulated for the first time in Texas.

 

 

 

Critics call it a job killer that will cost consumers money.

 

 

 

Under the bill filed by state Sen. John Carona, R-Dallas, chairman of the Senate Business and Commerce Committee, roofers would be required to pass a test on contracting principles and roofing services; provide proof of financial responsibility and insurance; and undergo criminal background checks, among other conditions.

 

 

 

An advisory board would help steer rules governing roof repairs.

 

 

 

A Business and Commerce spokesman said the Legislature has been looking at ways to address high homeowner insurance rates amid extreme weather that has resulted in widespread property damage.

 

"What appears to drive the damages and costs of premiums is water damage to homes that come in through roofs," said Steven Polunsky, the committee's director. "This is a statewide phenomenon. If it's not hurricanes on the coast, it's hail inland."

 

 

 

Legislators say the bill, which exempts new construction, would help consumers.

 

After a storm, homeowners typically are not in a position to study, compare or negotiate with contractors, Polunsky said.

 

 

 

An identical bill has been filed in the House.

 


Critics, however, say the new regulation would put thousands of roofers out of business and raise costs for consumers.

 

 

 

"The average person won't be able to start up a business anymore," said Deborah Tejada of Tejas Roofing and Contracting in Houston. "You won't be able to learn a trade and then start your business with nothing because the legislation is requiring financial requirements."

 

 

 

Consumers will get stuck with higher costs, too, said Tejada, who started her home-based business 30 years ago with her husband, Roland.

 

 

 

In states like Florida, where roofing contractors are strictly regulated, the cost of a new roof can be about three times higher than what it is in Houston, she said.

 

 

 

Proponents of the bill have acknowledged that changes to the bill would be useful.

 

 

 

On Thursday, Polunsky said a substitute bill is being written that is "a little less stringent."

 

 

 

He said the substitute will likely eliminate background checks, the examination and minimal levels of insurance. Instead of being licensed, roofers would be registered. "Limited oversight and limited rule-making power" would be granted to the Texas Department of Insurance. Roofers would have to provide detailed disclosures of insurance coverage to customers before a contract is signed.

 

 

 

Jon Conner, president of the Texas Independent Roofers Association, said the bill would benefit insurance companies and a few large roofers.

 

 

 

"They packaged it to look pretty as a consumer protection bill, and it's not," said Conner, owner of J-Conn Roofing & Repair Service in Austin. "It's going to have a major impact on small to medium-sized companies."

 


Conner said the bill would also hurt minority-owned businesses. He estimated 80 percent of Texas roofing work is performed by Hispanics.

 

 

 

He said the bill is similar to others killed in the last seven legislative sessions.

 

 

 

(View the article online here:

 

http://www.houstonchronicle.com/business/real-estate/article/Critics-call-roofing-legislation-a-job-killer-4318434.php)

 
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