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Letter to the Editor: Is Regulatory Policy Good or Bad?

  

By Gene Frederic of Frederic Roofing

When the topic of regulatory policy is addressed, it usually occurs with some heated rhetoric as this is a divisive topic that frequently has strong emotions attached to it.

However, like most things related to government, it’s not that regulations are themselves “good” or “bad,” rather what’s key to look at is how the regulations are implemented.  And when we look at regulating, or deregulating, business and industry, historically in the United States, we know that striking the right balance is key to success.

Clearly government was asleep at the switch, or in the case of the GSE’s, complicit, in the “perfect storm” of the mortgage meltdown due to subprime mortgage market products and toxic mortgage backed securities in the secondary mortgage market that created the recession we endured in 2006-2008 and Europe’s financial woes.  There is still sweeping regulatory policy under consideration on this topic today and the U.S. has spent billions of dollars digging out from the morass that occurred. We are still working to recover economically. Who can forget the words, “Too big to fail?”  One can reasonably conclude that this was a clear cut case where regulatory policy was sorely lacking.

By the same token, as Governor Greitens recently pointed out in his State-of-the State, regulatory policy can be overly intrusive to the point of the ridiculous, such as when hair braiding is regulated.

There are two valid bills moving through the assembly at this juncture that would protect consumers from bad actors in the roofing industry.  Senator Mike Cunningham’s bill that calls for Registration For Roofers takes a unique approach in that registering with the state isn’t mandatory. However, once you are in the Registration program, you are subject to a regulatory structure that protects consumers. This is done because the private sector has failed to solve the problem that we have in Missouri today.  According to recent data collected from the Attorney General’s office in December, there have been almost 500 consumer complaints in two years.

Registering as a roofer is a simple process. There is no board and it is all paid for by fees from the roofers who register.  While some may say this is over-regulation, and some may say it is under-regulation, it’s about the right amount of regulation for Missouri, and we can take a new step and try something unprecedented.  Representative Robert Cornejo has a similar bill in the House; a traditional registration bill that requires all roofers, including out-of-state roofers, to be registered. There is merit to the tried and true as well. Either approach would be a helpful step to help consumers, our Missouri businesses, and both large and small roofers.  Only the roofing contractor would be registered and the small fee and lack of red tape makes this a proposition that will help all without government getting in the way.

Notably, there is also a House bill put forth by Representative Elijah Haahr that responsibly sets the criteria by which licensing would be considered, and it stipulates the level of regulatory oversight.  Bonding and insurance is the lowest level of regulation, then comes registration, then certification and then licensing as the strictest program in his legislation.  His bill criteria matches the reason why registration for roofers would be a prudent step and his bill makes clear that registering is on the lower level of regulatory policy so it is on the lower end of intrusiveness.   

Absent legislation, bad actors and out-of-state storm chasers take advantage of vulnerable, consumers, especially during hurricane season.  Specifically, homeowners are taken advantage of by roofing contractors through fraud, bad business practices such as taking deposits and not completing work, not honoring warranties, and poor workmanship.  Additionally and unfairly to Missouri businesses, a majority of states, including the neighboring states of IL, OK, AR, and KS, and to a lesser degree, KY, have a form of licensing or registration requirement that Missouri roofers must meet.

We can help to stop consumers losing several thousand dollars in deposits for work never performed, legal costs, and in severe instances, catastrophic home damage.  Lieutenant Governor Mike Parsons had a similar bill to help roofers last session.  In this regulatory environment, it will take responsibly reviewing legislation through the prism of Representative Haahr’s bill help all Missourians who have a roof over their head without imposing burdensome new regulatory policy. We can find solutions like these legislative vehicles that help consumers, don’t impose burdensome new regulations, and help Missouri businesses and our economy.