Officials from a number of Northeastern states want a construction license that’s specific to pool builders — and a recent setback won’t stop them.
“We’re a professional industry that should be recognized with a license,” said Michael Giannamore, vice president of Aqua Pool & Patio Inc. in East Windsor, Conn. “The knowledge required to do what we do properly is not always there and, by having a license, hopefully we’ll get more-professional and better-educated people in our industry.”
Earlier this year, a bill was introduced in Connecticut to require licenses for pool builders. It died in May, but only because time ran out. HB 5230 also noted that the state would have to develop testing and continuing-education requirements for those seeking licenses. Additionally, it stipulated that pool builders cannot perform electrical, plumbing, solar and several other types of work without licensing specific to those trades.
The industry-backed bill passed the House of Representatives with only a few days left in the session. The Senate adjourned before it had a chance to vote on the measure.
“We were surprised it moved as well as it did,” said Lawrence Caniglia, executive director of the Northeast Spa & Pool Association. “We were really [expecting that] this could be a two-year process, if not longer.”
Connecticut builders were disappointed, but not defeated.
“I think it’s just a temporary setback,” said Giannamore, who’s also the treasurer of CONSPA, a Connecticut industry group that also backed the bill. “The license, I believe, will ultimately go through in Connecticut. I think we’ll set a precedent for the nation.”
But HB 5230 and its expected successor comprise part of a bigger plan for NESPA. The organization wants pool-specific construction licensing in the four states it oversees — Connecticut, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania.
NESPA has made New York its next target because the political environment there seems more friendly. But the Empire State works somewhat differently, with most industry regulation taking place at the county level.
So NESPA has approached officials in two Long Island counties in hopes of moving proposals forward. The reception was positive and they have been told to submit formal proposals.
“If we can get Connecticut and New York in the next year or two, then we would definitely start to push in Pennsylvania and New Jersey,” Caniglia said. “But it’ll be much tougher in those states.”
Currently, New Jersey isn’t friendly to measures that would impose costs on business, and Pennsylvania has spotty regulation.