Connecticut soon will be added to the number of states requiring a specific license for pool builders.
Senate Bill 863 has passed both houses of the legislature and is awaiting the governor’s signature.
The bill also closes an enforcement loophole in Connecticut’s
long-standing service-technician license.
“This is a win-win for everybody, because it’s going to
require builders to know what they’re doing — you have
to show you’re competent,” said Lawrence Caniglia,
executive director of the Northeast Spa & Pool
The licensing law will likely prove one of the strictest in the
nation, on par with Florida’s. Although the state’s
Department of Consumer Protection hasn’t yet determined the
requirements, local trade associations expect the law to closely
mirror the existing service-license statute.
That mandate requires that professionals have a certain number of
hours of field experience and education, and that they pass a
competency test. The law also sets a specific number of hours of
continuing education to renew every other year. Grandfathering
likely will be allowed for about a year after enactment.
Officials with NESPA expect to see similar laws pass in the
remaining three states in its jurisdiction. The group recently
recorded another victory when New York’s Nassau County passed
a builder-licensing regulation. In that state, these matters are
handled county by county, and NESPA officials are next eying Long
Island neighbor Suffolk County.
The Connecticut measure also raises the question of whether the
rest of the country will follow, and if such requirements are desirable.
Though many states mandate that pool builders receive licenses,
several serve as registration more than anything, with the
contractor providing proof of insurance, corporate papers and a
fee. Other states such as California, Nevada and Arizona do require
proof of competency to gain the license, but only at the initial
application. After that, licensed builders in those states
don’t have to demonstrate updated knowledge or skills.
Connecticut joins Florida in requiring that builders undergo
continuing education in order to maintain their licenses. Nevada
has approached the Association of Pool & Spa Professionals to
discuss lobbying for CE requirements. In that state, however, the
economy has put a damper on such ambitions, as government agencies
are stretched too thin to accept more enforcement duties.
APSP has considered creating a model licensing code to be used in
various states, with guidance on how much education and experience
to require, as well as the types of questions that should be on the
test. However, that idea hasn’t yet gained traction, partly
due to the economy and partly because each state and municipality
is different and would have its own needs in such a law, said
Jennifer Hatfield, APSP’s director of government affairs.
In Texas, long criticized for a lack of licensing, industry members
have discussed pushing for such a standard, but are reconsidering
for a different reason. After a service-technician license was
instituted in that state, the industry has seen push-back from
other trades and testing levels that some consider excessive.
“I think everybody got scared,” said Debra Smith,
co-owner of Ft. Worth, Texas-based Pulliam Pools and former
president of Texas industry lobbying group APEC.