The Northeast is continuing its movement toward industry-specific licensing with the introduction of a new state bill.

The Massachusetts legislature has introduced bills requiring pool and spa builders and service firms to be licensed. Meanwhile, Connecticut and Nassau County, N.Y., have hammered out key provisions for their new licensing laws.

Massachusetts Senate Bill 2091, states that no person can build, service or repair a pool without a license. It goes into effect on July 1, 2012.

Violating the law will be counted as a misdemeanor with fines up to $3,000. It is considered a violation not only to perform the work without a license, but also to hire an unlicensed individual to do so.

The bill was originally suggested by Chris Callanan, who represents Region 9 on the Association of Pool & Spa Professionals’ Board of Directors.

“There’s a sense of not being really professional out there,” said Callanan, who’s also president of North Shore Pool & Spa in Wakefield, Mass. “I want to raise the professionalism and image of our members [to] the public, and also make sure members are well-educated and certified, so they can continue to be more profitable in their own companies.”

The bill is currently in committee and may have to pass through one more committee before going before the full Senate.

In Connecticut, industry associations and the agency in charge of licensing have come to an agreement on the ideal requirements. These specifications must be reviewed by a legislative committee, posted for public comment and discussed at a public hearing to become official.

As it stands, the state would require that industry professionals make a statement saying they’re familiar with the regulations, show that the company they work for has a home-improvement contractor registration, prove five years’ experience, have an APSP Certified Building Professional designation or equivalent and take an exam.

The current language allows grandfathering, which would exempt long-standing professionals from the exam.

Grandfathering is only allowed until Dec. 31, 2013, after which all requirements must be met, including the test and CBP designation. “We have a lot of companies in Connecticut that are going to need to get certified, so we certainly have our work cut out for us,” said Lawrence Caniglia, executive director of the Northeast Spa & Pool Association.

To maintain the licensing, builders must complete at least six hours of continuing education. The state also has established enforcement for those violating the builder and existing service licensing.

“Penalties are going to be severe,” Caniglia said. “They took the language from the same penalty provisions that apply to plumbers, electricians, roofers and other contractors.”

Offenders can be charged $500 to $1,000 for each day working without an up-to-date license and lose their needed home-improvement contractor registration. Severe violators also can be criminally prosecuted. In Nassau County, N.Y., grandfathering has become available to obtain a builders license, which is currently in effect.

Grandfathering will be allowed for qualified professionals for the next two years, after which CBP certification will be required for renewal. No exam is required for Nassau’s license.

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