Contractor Law Pressures Cities

An unintended effect of the new contractor registration law which goes into effect January 1, 2006 places cities throughout Idaho in the position of encouraging contractors to be dishonest or forget about building permits.

While there are no provisions (or funding) for cities and counties to enforce the new law, these local governments issue building permits and it seems logical they should not issue permits to unregistered builders…sort of like giving a taxi permit to someone who doesn’t have a driver’s license.

There are an estimated 20-25,000 contractors subject to the provisions of the new law and fewer than 10% have registered so far.

One option being discussed by Boise City is to ask each building permit applicant to sign an affidavit claiming they are a contractor registered to do business in Idaho…sort of like the fireworks guys who sell those illegal big boomers and ask you to promise that you won’t fire them off in Idaho.

This is another example of bad law being passed by the legislature at the behest of special interests. The big contractors were attempting to limit competition while claiming the law would weed out unscrupulous contractors. There is little or no enforcement possible and the net effect will be to create liars and place undue burden on local government.

Maybe they could just deny the permit without proof of registration–that’s what the folks at the Motor Vehicle Bureau do when you want license plates on a new car.

See the earlier
GUARDIAN story for more details.

Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. Guardian says:

    “Maybe they could just deny the permit without proof of registration”

    And then maye the registration would be worth something.

  2. The people who want to restrict your consumer choices have already thought of the process of obtaining building permits:

    (1) On and after January 1, 2006, no building inspector or such other authority of any county, municipality or district charged with the duty of issuing building permits or other permits for construction of any type shall issue any permit without first requesting presentment of an Idaho contractor’s registration number. Such egistration number presented shall be conspicuously entered on the face of a permit so issued; provided however, a permit may be issued to a person otherwise exempt from the provisions of this chapter pro-
    vided such permit shall conspicuously contain the phrase “no contractor registration provided” on the face of such permit. No authority charged with the duty of issuing such permit shall be required to verify that the person applying for such permit is exempt as provided in this chapter.
    (2) All building permits or other permits for construction of any type shall be posted at the construction site in such a manner that the conspicuous statements set forth in subsection (1) of this section are visible.
    (3) No person engaged in construction activities who is otherwise exempt as set forth in section 54-5205, Idaho Code, shall be required to have a contractor registration number.

    The above law will require the city to place the registration number on any building permit issued. If a contractor has not registered they will not be able to get a building permit, period.

    As you know, most sub-contractors are not required to obtain a building permit. That’s where the fun will begin. They will turn on each other and the general contractors will be in a position to take advantage of the situation. Thus, putting many small subcontractors out of business and become employee’s of the larger contractors. Along with huge increase in prices. Welcome to America …Home of the Free!

  3. Ryan McGill
    Nov 21, 2005, 2:55 pm

    “The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren’t enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws.”
    -Ayn Rand

  4. Treva Hamilton
    Nov 21, 2005, 9:52 pm

    Ryan: I think we have already arrived there.

  5. Rod said:

    “They will turn on each other and the general contractors will be in a position to take advantage of the situation. ”

    How is that different from pre registration days? What power does this give GCs that they didn’t have before?

  6. Curmudgeon:

    They will have the power of the law to restrict competition. Many subcontractors will begin to act like an agent of the state. Checking to make sure everyone on the job has a proper government work permit. If someone can’t get registered the general contractor could simply suggest to the subcontractor that they either go to work for a larger subcontractor or they could work for the contractor doing the same work as before. Thereby, forcing the small independent subcontractor out of business.

    Make no mistake about it. This law was passed to restrict entry into the construction business. Pure and simple. No other reason.

  7. I don’t have any particular feelings one way or another about the law, but I think your article misstates the regulatory burden on cities. The city is only required to ask for the reg number and put it on the permit if one is provided by the applicant. If the applicant doesn’t provide a number, then they have to indicate on the permit that no number was given. So basically they will be changing their forms, i.e., a few more lines and boxes to check.

    The statute clearly states that the cities don’t have to verify if someone is exempt (i.e., why they didn’t provide a number). Why they would feel it necessary to require an affidavit given this language is beyond me.

    The biggest agency impact may be on county prosecutors (and county budgets). They may be stuck doing the criminal enforcement on these tickets, possibily even citations issued by cities, the way the enforcement statute (Idaho Code 54-5218) reads.

    I doubt the AG’s office is going to want to prosecute misdeanor citations throughout the state, and city prosecutors can point to the statute and argue the counties are supposed to do it.

  8. I hate to have to be the one to point this out, but registration also will help to weed out the bad actors, the hit-and-run artists who have been giving the industry (and Idaho) a bad name. Seems like we should wait and see whether there’s more bad than good in it.

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