Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Weren't You Promised JOBS?

Remember the 2010 elections?  Weren't you promised JOBS?  Well, this is what you got.

In June of 2011, the Delaware General Assembly passed HB180.  This bill, according to its own synopsis, "eliminates the exception that allows for unlicensed persons to perform electrical work under the supervision of electricians licensed under Chapter 14, Title 24".  The bill was passed by both chambers without a single "No" vote.  Four legislators can avoid the blood on their colleagues' hands by virtue of having skipped the vote.

Now, I'm all for making sure that people doing work that can start fires when done improperly know their business.  What I don't support is creating onerous licensing procedures and using government mandates and threats of fines to force people to bend to the will of a bunch of politicians before they can go out and earn a living.  What I don't support is legislation in the middle of a period of above average unemployment that explicitly "eliminates the exception that allows...persons to perform...work".  Why would ANYONE want to stop allowing people to work?

Anyway, the bill passed.  Everyone who showed up that day voted for it.  Do with that information what you will.  It was one of those bills that was passed under suspended rules right before the legislature went on summer vacation because it was on the "MUST PASS List", as if there should be such a thing.  In the meantime, there IS an effort under way to FIX some of the damage caused by HB180.  Two efforts, in fact.

One such effort is SB179.  This bill would suspend the implementation of HB180 for two years.  In an election year, such a delay is helpful, but not very much.  Instead of being thrown out of work in four weeks, they'll be thrown out of work in two years and four weeks.  Unfortunately, we're unlikely to find that reprieve as SB179 has been assigned to the Senate Labor and Industrial Relations Committee since March, and has yet to be scheduled for a hearing.

The other effort is more substantively useful.  HB301 would completely restore the exceptions permanently.  This bill is also rotting in committee, this time the House Sunset Committee originally responsible for releasing HB180.  It has not been scheduled for a hearing following its assignment in early April

HB301 should pass.  Short that, SB179 should pass and something similar to HB301 should pass after the election.  In order for either of those things to happen, the committee must release the bill or the rules of the respective chambers must be suspended.  Someone should be moving to suspend the rules and consider these bills daily.  Perhaps that would motivate the committees to schedule hearings and deal with the bills on their merits.

Even if I win this year, it will be over six months too late to save anyone's job.  The best I could do would be to reintroduce a bill similar to HB301 and hope it got a better hearing from a new General Assembly.  That doesn't mean we're powerless though.  You can email the people on the committees, especially the committee chairs, and ask them when these bills will be heard.  You can email your own legislators and ask them if they'd support suspending the rules to consider these bills without a committee report.  You can ask that electrical contractors in Delaware not be forced to join the ranks of the unemployed because they didn't fill out the proper paperwork.

SB179
Senate Labor and Industrial Relations Committee

HB301
House Sunset Committee

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