Friday, December 2, 2005

An overdue law to support

For as long as modern memory goes back, a groundswell had been building for a state law requiring contractors to register as a step toward becoming accountable to the public.

Finally, such a law, the Contractor Registration Act, is on the books. It takes effect in January. It requires contractors doing more than $2,000 worth of work to register and show proof of insurance. The Bureau of Occupational Licenses, which is administering the new law, also will develop a companion list of contractors who've faced disciplinary actions.

A registry of contractors gives consumers a source for deciding whom to hire for building and major repair projects (a "handyman" clause exempts casual work). It protects homeowners and workers in this hazardous industry by requiring contractors to carry liability and workers' compensation insurance.

Success of the law relies on the support of local government officials who may or may not decide to require that building permits be issued only to projects with a licensed contractor. As a construction boom area, the Wood River Valley should be out front in making the law work.

Although construction activities have had a long history of consumer complaints, Idaho has resisted regulations and licensing. However, the state's booming construction economy, plus pressure from consumers on legislators, has made tighter, tougher rules a certainty.

Competent, professional contractors should be the first to support this new law as a way of weeding out unfit contractors that hurt the work of experienced and reputable businesses.

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