Westchester County
New York

Local Law
LL-2018-10

Home Improvement Licensing Law Amendments

Information

Department:Board of LegislatorsSponsors:D6 Legislator Nancy Barr, D16 Legislator Christopher Johnson, D2 Legislator Kitley Covill, D5 Legislator (Chairman) Benjamin Boykin, D7 Legislator (Majority Leader) Catherine Parker, D12 Legislator (Majority Whip) MaryJane Shimsky, D9 Legislator Catherine Borgia, D10 Legislator Damon Maher, D8 Legislator (Vice Chair) Alfreda Williams, D11 Legislator Terry A. Clements
Category:Amendment to Local Law

Body

A LOCAL LAW amending Article XVI of Chapter 863 of the Laws of Westchester County in relation to the licensing of persons engaged in the home improvement business.

Meeting History

Sep 17, 2018 7:00 PM Video Board of Legislators Regular Meeting

On motion of Ms. Parker the above item was received, filed and referred to the Committees on Legislation, Budget & Appropriations and Labor & Housing.

RESULT:REFERRED TO COMMITTEE
Oct 9, 2018 10:00 AM Video Budget & Appropriations Committee Meeting
draft Draft

Joint with LEG & LH.

The Committees will be discussing Items #11243 Local Law and #11244 Public Hearing - Home Improvement Licensing Law Amendments.

James Maisano, Director, Consumer Protection, and John Gaccione Deputy Director join the Committee to discuss the Home Improvement Licensing Law. Mr. Masiano began by stating there are three pieces to this law and he will present them one at a time.

The first piece was a meeting with Legislator Barr who discussed changing the law to protect workers from wage theft. Mr. Maisano told Leg. Barr that if they had evidence of wage theft they would never grant a license to the contractor, as provided for under State law. However, Leg. Barr wanted to codify what we do regarding wage theft, so throughout our law we made changes as per the suggestions of Legislator Barr and the advocates. There is similar language in several places throughout the new law.

Mr. Maisano also made the point that they do not hear about cases resolved in small claims court and they are working on ways to get that information to them. Leg. Borgia suggested using e-news.

In answer to a question by Legislator Testa, Mr. Maisano noted that the are constantly dealing with judgments and satisfactions of judgments.

Mr. Maisano noted that the second piece was increasing license fees. The Department of Consumer Affairs has advocated raising the home improvement licensing fee because it's very low. By their estimate they are losing about $400,000 a year in lost fees. The current license fee is $300 for two years and they are recommending an increase of $100, so the new fee would be $400 for two years. He then gave background on previous fee raises and noted that they are doing more on background checks than they have ever done and it costs more to do that. He also stated that Westchester charges the lowest fees of the surrounding counties, so we are shortchanging our taxpayers.

In response to Legislator Tubiolo's question, Mr. Maisano stated that they have been working very closely with the NYS Turf and Landscape Association.

Ms. Williams brought up the question of raising the fee more so that we are more in line with what the other Counties are charging. Several suggestions were offered. There was further discussion concerning whether to put in an option to increase fees or to leave the legislation as is and revisit an increased fee in the future. Mr. Maisano noted that the higher the fee, the more pushback from the industry.

Legislator A. Williams recommended that we increase the fee to $400 for this coming year 2019, with inclusion in the legislation that subsequent to that the fee will go up by $100 for two years. A discussion on the recommendation followed.

Legislator A. Williams made a motion to amend the legislation to keep the raise for 2019 as it is and in 2021 the fee will be raised to $500. Legislator Barr seconded and the amendment was approved with a vote of 8-1 (Tubiolo-WOP, Testa- No).

RESULT:PENDING
Oct 9, 2018 10:01 AM  Labor & Housing Committee Meeting

The Committees will be discussing Items #11243 Local Law and #11244 Public Hearing - Home Improvement Licensing Law Amendments.

James Maisano, Director, Consumer Protection and Deputy Director Gaccione joined the Committee to discussed the proposed home Improvement Licensing Law. Mr. Maisano began by stating there are three pieces to this law and he will present them one at a time.

The first piece was a meeting with Legislator Barr who discussed changing the law to protect workers from wage theft. Mr. Maisano told Leg. Barr that if they had evidence of wage theft they would never grant a license to the contractor, as provided for under State law. However, Leg. Barr wanted to codify what we do regarding wage theft, so throughout our law we made changes as per the suggestions of Legislator Barr and the advocates. There is similar language in several places throughout the new law.

Mr. Maisano also made the point that they do not hear about cases resolved in small claims court and they are working on ways to get that information to them. Leg. Borgia suggested using e-news.

In answer to a question by Legislator Testa, Mr. Maisano noted that the are constantly dealing with judgments and satisfactions of judgments.

Mr. Maisano noted that the second piece was increasing license fees. The Department of Consumer Affairs has advocated raising the home improvement licensing fee because it's very low. By their estimate they are losing about $400,000 a year in lost fees. The current license fee is $300 for two years and they are recommending an increase of $100, so the new fee would be $400 for two years. He then gave background on previous fee raises and noted that they are doing more on background checks than they have ever done and it costs more to do that. He also stated that Westchester charges the lowest fees of the surrounding counties, so we are short changing our taxpayers.

In response to Legislator Tubiolo's question, Mr. Maisano stated that they have been working very closely with the NYS Turf and Landscape Association.

Ms. Williams brought up the question of raising the fee more so that we are more in line with what the other Counties are charging. Several suggestions were offered. There was further discussion concerning whether to put in an option to increase fees or to leave the legislation as is and revisit an increased fee in the future. Mr. Maisano noted that the higher the fee, the more push back from the industry.

Legislator A. Williams recommended that we increase the fee to $400 for this coming year 2019, with inclusion in the legislation that subsequent to that the fee will go up by $100 for two years. A discussion on the recommendation followed.

Legislator A. Williams made a motion to amend the legislation to keep the raise for 2019 as it is and in 2021 the fee will be raised to $500. Legislator Johnson seconded and the amendment was approved with a vote of 6-0.

RESULT:PENDING
Oct 9, 2018 10:02 AM  Legislation Committee Meeting

The meeting was opened by Leg. Shimsky, Vice-Chair of Legislation. The Committees will be discussing Items #11243 Local Law and #11244 Public Hearing - Home Improvement Licensing Law Amendments.

James Maisano, Director, Consumer Protection, began by stating there are three pieces to this law and he will present them one at a time.

The first piece was a meeting with Leg. Barr who discussed changing the law to protect workers from wage theft. Mr. Maisanoe told Leg. Barr that if they had evidence of wage theft they would never grant a license to the contractor, as provided for under State law. However, Leg. Barr wanted to codify what we do regarding wage theft, so throughout our law we made changes as per the suggestions of Leg. Barr and the advocates. There is similar language in several places throughout the new law.

Mr. Maisano also made the point that they do not hear about cases resolved in small claims court and they are working on ways to get that information to them. Leg. Borgia suggested using e-news.

In answer to a question by Leg. Testa, Mr. Maisano noted that the are constantly dealing with judgments and satisfactions of judgments.

Mr. Maisano noted that the second piece was increasing license fees.. The Department of Consumer Affairs has advocated raising the home improvement licensing fee because it's very low. By their estimate they are losing about $400,000 a year in lost fees. The current license fee is $300 for two years and they are recommending an increase of $100, so the new fee would be $400 for two years. He then gave background on previous fee raises and noted that they are doing more on background checks than they have ever done and it costs more to do that. He also stated that Westchester charges the lowest fees of the surrounding counties, so we are shortchanging our taxpayers.

In response to Leg. Tubiolo's question, Mr. Maisano stated that they have been working very closely with the NYS Turf and Landscape Association.

Ms. Williams brought up the question of raising the fee more so that we are more in line with what the other Counties are charging. Several suggestions were offered. There was further discussion concerning whether to put in an option to increase fees or to leave the legislation as is and revisit an increased fee in the future. Mr. Maisano noted that the higher the fee, the more pushback from the industry.

Leg. A. Williams recommended that we increase the fee to $400 for this coming year 2019, with inclusion in the legislation that subsequent to that the fee will go up by $100 for two years. A discussion on the recommendation followed.

Leg. A. Williams made a motion to amend the legislation to keep the raise for 2019 as it is and in 2021 the fee will be raised to $500. Leg. Covill seconded and the amendment was approved with a vote of 5 - 2 with Legislators Testa and Burrows voting no.

Leg. Burrows stated that this is our first meeting and he believes that the other side should have a chance to be heard by the Committees. Leg. Borgia stated that if they decide that they want someone to come in, then they will not vote the legislation out for all purposes from this meeting.

Mr. Gaccione went over the third piece of the legislation. They felt that there were tweaks to the law that needed to be done and Mr. Gaccione discussed the tweaks one by one.

In Sec. 863.329 (d) a recommendation was made to change "material man" to "material person" and In Sec. 863.329 (e) to delete from "except as otherwise provided in paragraph (g) of this subdivision".

Leg. Borgia stated that since Leg. Burrows had asked to have another meeting, we will not be signing anything out today.

Ann Heekin of the Don Bosco Community Center joined the conversation. Ms. Heekin discussed their work of educating daily workers on their rights as well as working on wage theft. They also they also get help for those whose wages have been withheld. A second goal of theirs is to get workers off the street corners and onto their site to allow them to act as advocates for the workers. She gave several examples of their work and how they work with the Dept. of Labor and Consumer Affairs. A discussion followed. Jason Parkin introduced himself and noted that he runs a clinic at Pace Law School called the Neighborhood Justice Clinic. They provide legal support for the labor allliances. He thanked the committee for considering this bill and that it takes a large step in the right direction in order to deal with wage left. He suggested that Sec. 3 Section 863.314 specifically mention wage theft to be more like Sec 5. Ms. Dolgin-Kmetz of the Law department stated that it was written that way in order to make it as broad as possible. A short discussion followed.

To view this meeting, please go to: http://westchestercountyny.iqm2.com/Citizens/default.aspx

RESULT:PENDING
Oct 22, 2018 10:00 AM Video Budget & Appropriations Committee Meeting

Joint with LH & Leg.

Director Jim Maisano and Deputy Director John Gaccione, from the Department of Consumer Protection join Chief Deputy County Attorney Stacey Dolgin-Kmetz and Associate County Attorney Justin Adin. This item was previously discussed. Mr. Masiano explained at the last meeting several amendments were made to the Legislation and he will go over them today.

Section 3 (1) second sentence the following was added:

"An application shall require any information the Sealer deems necessary to render a determination in accordance with Chapter and shall, at a minimum, require the disclosure of any final and non-appealable civil, criminal, or administrative business related judgments or determination of liability by the applicant, or by any business for which applicant was an owner, director, officer, member, or otherwise exercised control over the business, including to but not limited to judgments or determinations of liability related to the nonpayment or underpayment of wages."

Section 4(a) Effective January 1, 2019 increasing the renewal fee from $300 to $400.

In Section 4(b) was added:

Effective January 1, 2021, section 863.315 of the Laws of Westchester County is hereby amended to read as follows:

"The non-refundable biannual fee for a license to conduct home improvement business shall be [$400.00] $500.00, and for each renewal thereof the fee shall be [$400.00] $500.0. The license to conduct a home improvement business shall be for a period of two years and each renewal therefore shall be for two years. The Sealer may impose a penalty of $25.00 upon renewal application received by the Sealer no later than 15 day prior to the expiration date of the license sough to be renewed, The fee for issuing a duplicate license for one lost, destroyed or mutilated shall be $25.00."

In response to the Legislators request from the past meeting regarding speaking to the Landscape and Turf Association, he explained that the Turf and Landscape Association will submit a statement in writing. Mr. Maisano did say that they do have an objection to the enforcement. They feel that if they are going to pay an increased renewal fee that they would like better enforcement.

Legislator Barr added to the committee report 5th paragraph last sentence:

"These fee increases are reasonable given the lengthy passage of time, to offset the costs of processing, investigating license applications, and enforcement. "

Associate County Attorney Adin made an amendment to Section 11:

"This Local Law shall take effect immediately, except for sections 6 and 9, which shall take effect 60 days from the date enactment, and section 4(a)which shall take effect January 1, 2019 and section 4(b) which shall take effect January 1, 2021."

With a motion by Legislator Barr and seconded by Legislator Maher the amendments were approved with a vote of 9-0 (WOP- Tubiolo, Testa).

With a motion by Legislator Barr and seconded by Legislator Parker the item was approved with a vote of 9-0 (WOP- Tubiolo, Testa).

RESULT:SIGNED BY COMMITTEE
Oct 22, 2018 10:01 AM  Labor & Housing Committee Meeting

Joint with BA & Leg.

Director Jim Maisano and Deputy Director John Gaccione, from the Department of Consumer Protection join Chief Deputy County Attorney Stacey Dolgin-Kmetz and Associate County Attorney Justin Adin. This item was previously discussed. Mr. Masiano explained at the last meeting several amendments were made to the Legislation and he will go over them today.

Section 3 (1) second sentence the following was added:

"An application shall require any information the Sealer deems necessary to render a determination in accordance with Chapter and shall, at a minimum, require the disclosure of any final and non-appealable civil, criminal, or administrative business related judgments or determination of liability by the applicant, or by any business for which applicant was an owner, director, officer, member, or otherwise exercised control over the business, including to but not limited to judgments or determinations of liability related to the nonpayment or underpayment of wages."

Section 4(a) Effective January 1, 2019 increasing the renewal fee from $300 to $400.

In Section 4(b) was added:

Effective January 1, 2021, section 863.315 of the Laws of Westchester County is hererby amended to read as follows:

"The non-refundable biannual fee for a license to conduct home improvement business shall be [$400.00] $500.00, and for each renewal thereof the fee shall be [$400.00] $500.0. The license to conduct a home improvement business shall be for a period of two years and each renewal therefore shall be for two years. The Sealer may impose a penalty of $25.00 upon renewal application received by the Sealer no later than 15 day prior to the expiration date of the license sough to be renewed, The fee for issuing a duplicate license for one lost, destroyed or mutilated shall be $25.00."

In response to the Legislators request from the past meeting regarding speaking to the Landscape and Turf Association, he explained that the Turf and Landscape Association will submit a statement in writing. Mr. Maisano did say that they do have an objection to the enforcement. They feel that if they are going to pay an increased renewal fee that they would like better enforcement. Discussion was held on enforcement.

Legislator Barr added to the committee report 5th paragraph last sentence:

"These fee increases are reasonable given the lengthy passage of time, to offset the costs of processing, investigating license applications, and enforcement. "

Associate County Attorney Adin made an amendment to Section 11:

"This Local Law shall take effect immediately, except for sections 6 and 9, which shall take effect 60 days from the date enactment, and section 4(a)which shall take effect January 1, 2019 and section 4(b) which shall take effect January 1, 2021."

With a motion by Legislator Johnson and seconded by Legislator Parker the amendments were approved with a vote of 7-0.

With a motion by Legislator Parker and seconded by Legislator Johnson the item was approved with a vote of 7-0.

RESULT:SIGNED BY COMMITTEE
Oct 22, 2018 10:02 AM  Legislation Committee Meeting

Committee Vice Chair Shimsky opened the meeting.

Chair Boykin stated for the record "We have called this meeting under Mason's Manual of Legislative Procedure, Chapter 57, Section 626.4. The meeting can be called with the majority of the members of the committee. I spoke to everyone on the committee except the Chair and we have a majority of the committee who signed to have this meeting today. There's a memo to that effect dated October 19, 2018".

Jim Maisano, Director, Consumer Protection, John Gaccione, Deputy Director Consumer Protection, Stacy Dolgin-KMetz, Chief Deputy County Executve and Justin Adin, Associate County Attorney of the Law Department came to the table. Leg. Shimsky announced that a number of changes have been made and that there were two items in your packets, one of which is tracked.

Mr. Maisano began to discuss Items # 11243/44 - Home Improvement Licensing Law Amendments. He began by announcing that changes that the Committees had asked for at the last meeting had been gone through thoroughly, so he was going to discuss only changes that had been done since then He noted that at the request by advocates in Section 3 1st paragraph - a clause has been added to this section on the last line that relates to wage theft. They also asked for an addition on lines 6 & 8 after the word "judgment" to add "or determination of liabilities".

Section 4(a) was added to change the amount of the permits from $300 to $400. Section 4(b) was added to increase the amount from $400 to $500 effective January 1, 2019.

Leg. Burrows asked what are the financial impact of these changes? Mr. Maisano replied that the amount for 2 years would be around $400,000. Leg. Tubiolo asked if the landscapers have been consulted. Mr. Maisano replied that they have been in touch with the NYS Landscape & Turf Assn. They are not happy with the increase but if they are going to pay more they want better enforcement. There was a discussion about enforcement and positions. Leg. Parker asked for data on the results of sweeps. Leg. Barr asked if the last line in the penultimate paragraph in the Committee Report should be changed to read after "application", and enforcement".

Mr. Maisano continued, in Section 5 sec. 1(a) 3rd line after the word "including" the words "but not limited to" were added.

Additionally, the same change was made in Section 5 sec. 1(d)

In Section 9 - Sec.863.329 (d) 2nd sentence, the wording was changed from "material man" to "material person".

In (e) 2nd line the phrase "in paragraph (g) of the subdivision" was deleted because it was inaccurate.

Section 11 Sec. 863.330 Complaints-Section 11 was changed to add "section 4(a) which shall take effect January 1, 2019" after the word "enactment".

Leg. Borgia called for a vote on the 3 amendments added today- last line of the next to last paragraph of the Committee Report, the additions to Section 3 - 1(a) lines 6 & 8, and Section 11 adding section 4(a).

Legislator A. Williams made a motion to accept the amendments, Leg. Covill seconded and the motion was passed 7 - 0.

With a motion by Legislator Covill and seconded by Legislator Borgia, the items were approved with a vote of 7 - 0 with Legislator Testa voting without prejudice.

To view this meeting, please go to: http://westchestercountyny.iqm2.com/Citizens/default.aspx

RESULT:SIGNED BY COMMITTEE
Nov 19, 2018 7:00 PM Video Board of Legislators Regular Meeting

Submitted by COMMITTEES ON BUDGET & APPROPRIATIONS, LEGISLATION AND LABOR & HOUSING.

Ms. Borgia, Ms. Perez and Mr. Maher presented the report and the Local Law and moved that the report be received, filed and approved and the Local Law adopted, which motion was carried by the following vote.

RESULT:ADOPTED [UNANIMOUS]
AYES:Catherine Parker, John G. Testa, Nancy Barr, Catherine Borgia, Gordon A. Burrows, Terry A. Clements, Kitley Covill, Margaret A Cunzio, Christopher Johnson, Michael Kaplowitz, Damon Maher, Virginia Perez, MaryJane Shimsky, David J. Tubiolo, Alfreda Williams, Lyndon Williams, Benjamin Boykin