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Washington Inspector Licensing Gets Fast Tracked


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By Mike O'Handley

On Monday, March 12th, state bill 5788, a bill to license home inspectors, was quietly and overwhelmingly passed (45-2) in the Washington state senate and moved on to the state house of representatives.

This bill is the second attempt by Washington State Senators Spanel and Kohl-Welles to get home inspectors licensed. A previous attempt, SB6229, which was introduced on January 9th 2006, died in committee last summer.

If this bill passes in the house, is signed by the governor and becomes law in it's current form, Washington State inspectors, many of whom don't even know there's a law in the works, are going to find themselves saddled with a new, unpleasant reality as early as 2008.

There is a group of home inspectors - the Washington Home Inspectors Legislative Advisory Group (WHILAG), that, though generally in favor of licensing, is already actively opposing SB5788, because they do not feel that, in its current form, SB5788 accurately reflects the realities of the home inspection business nor the wants and needs of professional home inspectors in Washington State. That group's latest position statement on SB 5788 can be read here.

WHILAG has already garnered the support of the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) and National Association of Home Inspectors (NAHI), as well as a large group of home inspectors marshaled by Larry Stamp (Olympia), former President of the American Institute of Inspectors (AII). Unfortunately, the bill is being supported by Nick Gromicko, founder and owner of the National Association of Home Inspectors (NACHI), who stated in an email to Stamp, "I'm (not NACHI... Nick Gromicko) pushing 5788 hard and when I push something it typically moves."

WHILAG is seeking input about licensing, pro or con, from every home inspector in the state. All inspectors should review these laws as presently written and contact WHILAG or their own state representatives as soon as possible to voice their position on this important issue.

Click here to read the original version of the bill; here to read a substitute version, here to read an engrossed substitute version and here to review a last-minute striker version submitted minutes before the bill was voted on in the senate.

Inspectors who want to sound off on any version of this law can do so by sending emails directly to TIJ at letters@inspectorsjournal.com . TIJ will forward those emails, unaltered, directly to the group's secretary. Don't delay, because, pro or con, licensing will directly impact every single inspector in the state.

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  • 2 weeks later...

UPDATE: For those interested there will be a public hearing on SB 5788 on Tuesday, March 27th, in the House Committee on Commerce & Labor at 1:30 PM. (Subject to change) in the house hearing Rm C in the John L. O'Brien Building, Olympia, WA.

Inspectors who oppose or support licensing, or even those who think the present proposals are acceptable, but want to see some changes made, should consider attending. However, don't expect too much. It seems our state's legislators are more interested in rubber stamping what their colleagues have hurriedly and sloppily cobbled together, instead of listening to what a few mere home inspectors want to tell them about the realities of our craft.

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UPDATE: The Washington Home Inspectors Legislative Advisory Group (WHILAG) intends to be at this hearing and will attempt to be heard on this bill. WHILAG is proposing amendments to the engrosses substitute version of SB 5788. To see WHILAG's proposed amendment, click here.

To see a separate memo explaning their basis for those recommendations, click here.

Remember, any inspectors who wish to comment about this bill, but don't want to do it publicly here on the forums, you can send your comments to letters@inspectorsjournal.com specify who you want them forwarded to and TIJ will be happy to forward them for you.

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  • 1 month later...

Hi David,

That's correct. The Department of Licensing (DOL) has been tasked with conducting the sunrise review. As of last Friday, DOL still hadn't assigned the study to a specific caseworker, but as soon as they get it the clock starts ticking and then they'll start soliciting input from home inspectors and anyone else they think the proposed regulation will impact (stakeholders).

The sunrise review is a study to determine whether the proposed legislation is justified and is done only at the request of the chairs of the legislative committees. Basically, it's the intent of the state legislator that all individuals have the right to enter into any business profession, unless there is "an overwhelming need for the state to protect the interests of the public by restricting entry." Enhancement of professional status alone is not enough to justify regulation.

You can find out more about this at The DOL website. It will explain that the a business profession should be regulated or its scope of practice expanded only when:

  • Unregulated practice can clearly harm or endanger the health, safety or welfare of the public, and the potential for the harm is easily recognizable and not remote or dependent upon tenuous argument;
  • The public needs and can reasonably be expected to benefit from an assurance of initial and continuing professional ability;
  • The public cannot be effectively protected by other means in a more cost-beneficial manner.
That said, if they decide that a profession must be regulated, it's policy that they implement the least restrictive method of regulation that's consistent with the public interest.

So, let me give you the Reader's Digest version of what's going to happen:

DOL will assign it to a caseworker

That caseworker will be responsible for researching laws in other states

That caseworker will collect input from stakeholders, special interest groups and others.

That caseworker will figure out what regulation will cost and whether there is sufficient number of inspectors in the state to pay for it.

The caseworker will turn his/her results over to his honcho and then the honcho will decide whether he/she feels the proposal is justified and there's a way to pay for it, based on the data the caseworker collected.

If DOL decides that regulation isn't warranted. or the benefit doesn't justify the cost, it's sent back to the committee chair with a recommendation to kill it.

If DOL decides that it's necessary and there are sufficient numbers of home inspectors to pay for it, but that the law is too restrictive, they'll send it back with a recommendation for modifications.

If DOL decides that it's not too restrictive and it's necessary, and the program will generate enough revenue to pay for itself, it will get sent back with a recommendation for passage.

From there, it's back in the legislators' hands.

They can still kill it if there is overwhelming opposition and they're afraid it will hurt them politically (Not likely, home inspectors as a demographic have about as much power as a gnat on a bull's ass).

If they don't think it will hurt them and could do them some good politically while still benefiting the consumer, they'll probably pass it, in which case, it's sent to the governor for signature.

If the governor approves it, it becomes law. If not, and there aren't enough votes to override a gubernatorial veto, it dies.

So, everyone keep your ears to the ground and, if you're really interested in this thing one way or the other, write to your pols and talk to influential friends about it and ask them to write to their pols, because the sunrise review is all about gauging interest one way or the other.

For more information about the process, go to: http://dol.wa.gov/about/sunrise.html

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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No Problem,

Just don't go to sleep. Whichever side of this issue you are on, you need to get folks talking and writing and emailing their legislators. If you don't, I'll bet you a case of Sanseo coffee pods that Sen. Spanel and Kohl-Welles will try again to slip something in on short-notice and hope to sneak it through the legislative process as quickly as they did last time. Especially don't get complacent and think that the bill is defeated because it is not. It's just in the penalty box for a time while the refs sort out some technicalities. You never know, it might come back up again and get voted through in the middle of the night - since they seem to play dirty down there.

My own feeling is that we're going to have legislation. Sooner or later, she and her crony are going to broker enough deals down in Olympia to weaken legislators opposing her and she's going to push something through. I think she'll try to push through what she wants, and what she wants probably hasn't got a thing to do with what home inspectors want. If it did, she would have listened to WHILAG, instead of patronizing them, allowing them to spend 30 minutes with her, nodded understandingly, thanking them and then going off and doing exactly what she'd intended to do in the first place.

I think that either she got a bad inspection or one of her friends got a bad inspection - or thinks that he or she had a bad inspection, because he/she really doesn't have any idea what we do - and that's why she's got a hard-on for the profession.

Until there's some kind of home inspection regulation in the state of Washington, I think we can count on her attacking again, and again, and again, until something finally gets passed. She's powerful as hell in Olympia. If home inspectors don't get off their duffs and start needling the hell out of every influential person they know and every legislator they can find an email address for - in their own district or not - they're going to find themselves ambushed again, the same way they were ambushed in 1991 by the pest guys.

So, pull your heads out of your backside, Washington inspectors, or one day you might wake up to a whole new unpleasant reality (Depending on your stance on licensing, that is.).

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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Mike, Why was anyone suprised that a new Bill came up this year? Once last years crap was killed most inspectors I know expected another this January. That's why I kept bugging you about what was happening with the WHILAG?

You complained that the Senator wasted the groups time by listening to them and then just going ahead and doing what she wanted. Many Inspectors sent in comments to the WHILAG about changes in its proposal, but from the latest I've seen the Group stuck to what they wanted and ignored the suggestions of other Inspectors.

Secrecy might be a more efficient way for Groups like yours to come up with a proposal, but secrecy also alienates others outside the group. What you end up with are different groups proposing different things with time running out and no time to compromise, if that were possible, so the politicians just do what ever they want

This year is the WHILAG going continue meeting, and are they going to open up for suggestions and proposals from other inspectors and keep those interested informed. If not then come next January, if the present bill fails, we'll all be in the same position, on different sides and some BS Bill that nobody likes may be passed.

There were things I liked about your groups proposal, like getting rid of the ridiculous SPI requirement, and things I didn't like, like the number of required Inspections which I feel is too restrictive, and the mentoring which I feel is unfair to those new inspectors residing in rural areas of the State that would have few mentors available, I wasn't a fan of the "Classroom" training over recognized Correspondence or Internet training for the same reason, it's 300 to 400 miles to the nearest Home Inspector Training from Spokane, unless the proposal were to include provisions for providing Training at all State Community Colleges at least until Private Courses were offered Statewide.

If there is no organization and everyone operates in secret, then we will have the same result next year, one of these days the politicians will get their way.

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Originally posted by Lewis Capaul

Mike, Why was anyone surprised that a new Bill came up this year? Once last years crap was killed most inspectors I know expected another this January. That's why I kept bugging you about what was happening with the WHILAG?

When it went to sunrise review last year, they couldn't find any "stakeholders" willing to take the thing and run with it. As I recall, WHILAG got word from the senator's office that she wasn't going to try and revive it. That's when the group re-focused with a long-term goal of having something in draft form by end of 2007 to be able to send out to all of the various groups for comment.

It wasn't until the KIRO7 piece came out and suddenly there was Kohl-Welles announcing to the world that something needed to be done, that they realized they'd been snookered.

You complained that the Senator wasted the groups time by listening to them and then just going ahead and doing what she wanted. Many Inspectors sent in comments to the WHILAG about changes in its proposal, but from the latest I've seen the Group stuck to what they wanted and ignored the suggestions of other Inspectors.
With respect, you don't know what the hell you're talking about. There was a lot of blood shed in that room, month after month, and what came out of it was the best that the group could agree on.

When you say a "lot of inspectors" who were they? Only about a half a dozen ever responded to what I posted twice on TIJ and as I recall Jerry D. says he never received a single e-mail from anyone in your own organization.

Do you think that positions that people suggested weren't looked at at all. If you do, you're delusional, because everyone in that group had at some time or another during the process advocated every suggestion that the group ever saw.

It's a coalition. That means that folks don't always get their own way. You should be glad for that. If I'd had my way, what the group came up with would have been a whole different ball game.

Many suggestions that I made were voted on and rejected - sometimes by folks who favored my ideas the previous month and had voted for them. In other meetings, those who'd I'd voted against previously on some issue, I voted with. It was a process where we took a bunch of people with opposing views and competing professional associations, stuck them in a room and agreed to try and work together. For the most part, we were able to do that.

Something you need to realize. You could have 5,000 comments from others and it won't do a damned bit of good if the majority of a group your sending them to doesn't agree with what's being suggested.

Secrecy might be a more efficient way for Groups like yours to come up with a proposal, but secrecy also alienates others outside the group.
That's funny. Folks keep saying that the group met in secrecy, but they met the same place every month on the same day of the month and every once in a while someone would stop in unannounced to observe the process. They weren't thrown out, so I guess it wasn't very "secret." Hell, one time we had a guy on leave from the Marines sit through a whole meeting!

Could they take part? Sure, but they weren't allowed to vote. Last month, Tom Knapp from AHIA stopped in to give his point of view as an officer of that franchise association. Folks listened to what he had to say.

What you end up with are different groups proposing different things with time running out and no time to compromise, if that were possible, so the politicians just do what ever they want.
No, what you had was a group made up of people who'd spent a year trying very hard to put together something that everyone in the group might not think was ideal, but everyone in the group could live with from a professional standpoint. Nobody thought that what they had was ideal, but it was something formed by consensus. The senator didn't seem to get it. She thought WHIG had only one point of view and the significance of what the group had accomplished, since they are such a diverse group, totally escaped her. WHIG put their cards on the table and showed their hand every single time. Not the senator - she was talking to someone behind the scenes and saying things like, "We've had complaints about the quality of inspectors' work," but she never once provided any proof of any of that and wouldn't tell anyone where she was coming up with some of her direction. She'd come up with one wacko version, the group would respond to it and try to suggest some changes that they thought might work, and then she'd come up with another version that was totally out in left field - changed from the other and ignoring the group's suggestions - so they'd have to go back and try and figure out how to suggest changes to THAT which they could live with.

Then you have to realize that WHIG isn't any sort of official body. They have no power over anyone. They are not the only voice in the state talking to these pols. They might be the only group that's taken the time and effort to actually sit down and talk things through, instead of attacking everyone else on every message board on the planet,\. WHILAG certainly weren't the only group talking to folks in Olympia. You had the others from out-of-state, such as the little jag clerk, Jim Pussfart. Then you had Nick, who was supporting 5788 the way the senator wrote it. These people, who don't work here and haven't a glimmering of an idea of what it's like to work here, constantly badgered those pols and that didn't help matters for anyone's side of the argument here.

This year is the WHILAG going continue meeting, and are they going to open up for suggestions and proposals from other inspectors and keep those interested informed.
They've always been open. Here's the way it works. There's a list of folks. Their information is public knowledge. You can find it right here on TIJ. Call, write or email someone on the list with your suggestions. When they meet, they tell the others what suggestions they've received from folks in their respective areas or in their own organizations. The group considers them. If someone in the group thinks an idea has merit, someone makes a motion to do-do-and-so. It's seconded and then the group discusses whatever it is until they've beat it to death.

Sometimes a discussion starts and most of the group will be against an idea but after thorough discussion those in favor of whatever it is are able to convince the others to see things their way. Sometimes not. In any event, by and by the thing comes up for a vote. If the nay's out-weight the aye's, it gets tossed. If not, it gets adopted. Does that make the guys/gals who were outvoted happy? No, but that's how it works.

Do they get angry, storm out and start their own group, in order to try and get their own way? No. They realize that the cross section of folks in that room is as good a representation of home inspectors from various groups as you'll find anywhere in the country, and they accept it as the will of the group - even if it is a bitter pill to swallow. Believe me, I swallowed some bitter pills in that room.

If not then come next January, if the present bill fails, we'll all be in the same position, on different sides and some BS Bill that nobody likes may be passed.
We're in that position now.
There were things I liked about your groups proposal, like getting rid of the ridiculous SPI requirement, and things I didn't like, like the number of required Inspections which I feel is too restrictive, and the mentoring which I feel is unfair to those new inspectors residing in rural areas of the State that would have few mentors available, I wasn't a fan of the "Classroom" training over recognized Correspondence or Internet training for the same reason, it's 300 to 400 miles to the nearest Home Inspector Training from Spokane, unless the proposal were to include provisions for providing Training at all State Community Colleges at least until Private Courses were offered Statewide.
There are people in that room, including me, that agree with your various points. Unfortunately, not enough agreed on them to sway the group over what the majority wanted.If there is no organization and everyone operates in secret, then we will have the same result next year, one of these days the politicians will get their way.WHILAG continues to be the most diverse group of people in the state who are actually trying to work together and come to some sort of consensus, instead of trying to torpedoe each other. The reason the group was formed was to try and give a voice to all of the various groups, in the hope that people would understand that they were doing the best they could to represent everyone as best that they could, and that people wuld use them as a conduit to put their ideas to the pols. Unfortunately, it didn't work that way. Folks whined to others out of state and got to forming conspiracy theories and spreading all sorts of unfounded and completely untrue rumors about the group - yourself included - and then everyone else began hounding the pols and eroding WHILAG's credibility.

Do you think all of the arm waving helped. Hell no! All that yourself, Pussfart, Gromicko and all of the others did was give Spanel what she needed - a reason to point to home inspectors as being a disorganized bunch of slobs who didn't know what they wanted, therefore she needed to show them the way.

Mark my words. Spanel has a private agenda which she isn't sharing with WHILAG, and perhaps nobody else, for that matter. She and Kohl-Welles are bound and determined that she's going to be the one to notch her holster with a home inspector bill. Want to know something? I don't thing she gives two fairy farts what any home inspectors want. I think she's got it in for home inspectors over some private thing, and I think she thinks that all of us are crooks and wants to regulate us by the strongest possible means possible and she's bound and determined to get things her way come hell or high water.

Guess we'll see.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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Mike, Your group was as guilty of making Home Inspectors appear disorganized as any other, you yourself promised to post the groups preliminary proposals here on this board, yet they never appeared. Your group took it upon themselves to claim they represented Home Inspectors in Washington State, look at the Name, yet no one else could get information on what was being discussed or decided within your group. You west side inspectors seem to forget how large the State is that you live in, Spokane and the East are a little far away to permit someone to just drop in to one of your meetings.

By the way, Domagala did receive emails and a phone call from me, he stated the same thing that you had told me, that the Group was sworn to secrecy and that when they did make their proposal public no one within the group would be allowed to disagree with that proposal. What good then would it do for anyone outside the group to ask questions?

My letters and conversations with the Senators contained no reference to any HI Association, they contained my proposals some of which I already stated. No one in any Association or Group speaks for me, and it would seem from this years HI Battle that I'm not the only one who believes that. No doubt your group worked very hard coming up with its' proposal, but the way it turned out that's all it was, the Group's proposal which not too many Inspectors in Washington seemed to agree with.

One Team One Fight, that sounds good Mike, but do your really expect the "Team" to jump off the Bench and play a good game when they have no input or sense of belonging to the "Team" and when they don't even see the play book until the game starts?

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Hi,

I actually spent about an hour earlier today composing a response to the above. Then I just kind of sat back and said to myself, "What's the point? He's not interested in listening, anyway?" and I reset the form.

Good suggestion Randy.

They meet the 3rd Friday of the month at the Shoreline Conference Center. Meetings begin at 9:00 am. Contact Sandy Hartmann and let her know if you'd like to stop in and address the group. She'll put it on the agenda.

OT - OF!!!

M.

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Dropping in on a meeting at Shoreline from Kenmore isn't quite like dropping in on the meeting from Spokane. A group that claims to represent all Washington Inspectors, should be able to keep those inspectors who are interested informed of what is being proposed.

Mike, I did email TIJ last fall asking for Domagala's email address or for him to contact me, he said he never received it, but we got together from the e"Other" Board. Seeing as you often cruise the messages there, you know I tried to eliminate Bushart and the rest by asking Washington Inspectors to move their discussions here to the Washington Only forum, I also repeatedly told them to contact Domagal, who finally replied. You had told us that our various association reps from the group would be notifying us or the groups proposal, if that happened at all that was after the information had all ready leaked, and weeks after many of us had started our own letter writing campaigns to the Senators.

From your recent posts about the Groups Proposals and their reasoning behind them, it shows that nothing has changed from the Original Proposal that we saw. From the reaction of many other Inspectors over the past few months it seems to me that the Groups ideas are not widely accepted across the State.

I'm not unwilling to listen to your groups proposals and ideas, or to send them my ideas and concerns, as a nonmember I may choose to support many or the groups proposals and include them in my correspondence and campaign to the politicians, but I'm not bound by your groups rules to speak with one voice after you reach your conclusion.

If you want a One Team, One Fight approach to the licensing question, then the "Team" needs to be kept informed of the plan, and to have some sense of input or of being members of a Team, otherwise there will be a lot of teams showing up the next time a Bill is proposed, and the only one that will win will be the one pushing Spanel's buttons.

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