The ASCA continues using positive legislative change to drive the industry forward. Before beginning our legislative initiatives, the industry believed it had little say in what happens in government, with the exception of voting in local elections. I talked with folks who simply believed “That is the way government works,” or “We can never get a law introduced, let alone passed."
Today, many of those same folks will tell you that “We can, and we WILL, get our legislation passed."
More importantly, professional snow and ice management contractors have developed relationships with their elected officials at both the state and federal levels. For example, just this week, we had a small group of snow and ice management contractors visiting the offices of their house of representatives for a few meetings. As we gathered to get through security, a congresswoman (one of her constituents is with us) waves to our group and specifically asks her constituent how she is today. This never would have happened two years ago. These officials now use some of our members as a sounding board for not only our issues, but other small business issues, as well. We do have a voice, and we need to continue to use it.
The process itself, while not complicated, can be cumbersome. However, it is definitely worth the time. I often describe a process of “hurry up, then wait, but be ready to hurry up again.” The old School House Rock video is often mentioned to me when I speak about legislation at events. It is still the best explanation of the process we go through with our Legislative initiatives.
The Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act: Senate Bill 237
The ASCA began its legislative initiatives with its first lobbying day in Washington D.C. five years ago to support this bill. We helped get it through the U.S. House of Representatives. The bill now resides in the Senate’s Judiciary Committee. Last November 8th, the committee held a hearing on this bill, along with three other similar tort-reform bills. It was the first hearing on this legislation in 5 years. This in and of itself is progress.
The Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act would reign in frivolous lawsuits, such as slip-and-falls. The bill would change the federal rules of civil procedure and make it mandatory for judges in federal court rooms to imposes sanction on plaintiffs and their attorneys who are found to have filed frivolous lawsuits. You know the type…the ones where you have them on camera and they never fell! Or the person who climbs over the snow pile, breaks their ankle then sues you. This is not going to eliminate all lawsuits, but it will eliminate a big chunk of them. I could write an entire column on this legislation, but that is not the point of this column.
If you believe our voices are not being heard, CLICK THIS LINK TO ACCESS THE NOVEMBER 8 HEARING. You only need to watch the first few minutes of Senators Grassley’s introduction to know that this industry is being heard.
I invite you to have your voice heard by our elected officials. Right now, our government believes there are 40 snow contractors in the U.S. Use your voice and join us in Washington D.C. September 4th and 5th for our annual Legislative Day.
Snow and Ice Management Limited Liability Act.
This the ASCA’s model legislation we are working in a variety of states to get enacted. This bill would make indemnification clauses and hold-harmless agreements, where the property owner passes their liability onto the snow contractor, null and void. This means you can’t be held responsible for something you don’t control.
The ASCA’s legislation was enacted in to law in August 2016 in Illinois. It was a hard-fought road to get it done, but well worth the effort. Many Illinois contractors have shared positive stories with me of the impact of this law. We have hear that for some properties, only qualified contractors are being invited to bid. In other instances, triggers depths are being reduced or completely removed. I’ve been told this gives the snow contractor more of an equal partnership with their clients, improving their relationships. In all, it has been very positive for Illinois snow and ice management professionals. Illinois was our “BETA TEST,” so to speak.
Colorado: Senate Bill 18-062 passed the Senate last week. The bill moves to the House where we hope to have it heard soon. We are working with opposing parties to ensure passage of the bill.
Pennsylvania: House Bill 624 has had hearings in committee. The Pennsylvania Retailers Association has us stalled right now, playing a behind-the-scenes political game. We continue to press forward to find common ground to get this through.
New York: Senate Bill 3702 and Assembly Bill 6746. These bills are in their respective committees in their chamber. We are planning a day in Albany for New York snow and ice management contractors to meet with their representatives to generate momentum and get this moving. If you are interested in attending, please contact me directly.
New Jersey: This is an example of the process. We had this bill through the Senate with a unanimous vote lase session. It was an election year, then a government shutdown, and we never got it out of the assembly. This bill has been reintroduced as Senate Bill 665, and we are working to get this through this session.
Indiana: Senate Bill 131 and House Bill 1125. The committee we are working with wants more research on this bill before they hold a hearing on it. The pushed the research to this summer.
Massachusetts. HB2369. This bill is bigger than just the snow industry, but includes us in the same fashion as the ASCA’s bill. This bill is in committee and we, along with other allied groups, are working together to get this moving forward.
We are also working in many other states at different levels. We expect to have legislation reintroduced in Michigan very soon (it passed the House last sessions, but we ran out of time in the Senate). We also expect Ohio and Wisconsin to introduce legislation soon.
The ASCA and its membership are working hard on these initiatives. When we are in your state, please join us to have your voice heard.