Looks like some Idaho building contractors stand a chance of being “hoisted by their own petard,” thanks to a contractor registration law the Associated General Contractors lobbied through the past legislative session.
(For non library types: hoist with (or by) one’s own petard means to have one’s plans to cause trouble for others backfire on one. A petard is a bomb…from Shakespeare’s Hamlet.)
Legislators passed the law under the guise of protecting unwary consumers from unscrupulous contractors. The little guys however claimed the big guys were trying to run them out of business with some of the provisions in the law.
The GUARDIAN talked to the Occupational Licensing Bureau of the state and we were told about 2500 contractors had registered so far and the deadline is January 1, 2006. Some estimates claim there are 20-25,000 contractors who would be subject to the law.
In simple terms the law says anyone engaged in construction–everything from excavation to “altering and improving” a building, road bridge, etc. is subject to the registration law.
One achilles heel of this law is that a contractor can’t hire a sub contractor without proof he is registered. Both parties are subject to $1,000 misdemeanor criminal fines and or six months in jail for violation.
This means the BIG contractors either hire only registered subs or put them on their own payroll. They would have to withhold income tax and social security, pay workers comp and unemployment. The third choice is jail…a guy is either an employee or a contractor. Contrctors have to register.
The other achilles heel is a provision that PROHIBITS anyone engaged in unregistered contracting work from bringing ANY collection action in any court in Idaho. In short, you can hire an unregistered contractor and he has no recourse to collect for his labor PERIOD. Unregistered contractors must BEWARE of unscrupulous consumers!
With 90% of the contractors unregistered who install tile, flooring, cabinets, insulation, windows, roofing, or paint it will be fun to see if the housing boom continues.
Since the state has no enforcement division for checking construction sites, don’t look for the local sheriff or cops to be out in the mud with ticket books in hand. Probably just another law to be ignored by those who passed it.
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