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IAQA POSITION STATEMENT On Florida HB 4171 & SB 1244

Released March 23, 2011

ABOUT IAQA
The Indoor Air Quality Association is a Florida not‐for‐profit corporation established in 1998. IAQA is dedicated to promoting the exchange of indoor environmental information, through education and research, for the safety and well being of the general public. The Association has more than 3,500 members nation‐wide, including more than 400 members in the state of Florida. IAQA provides training courses for mold assessment professionals, IAQ investigators, and mold remediation contractors, but does not act as a certifying organization. IAQA courses have been approved by the Florida DBPR for continuing education credit for licensed trades and professions including HVAC contractors and professional engineers.

BACKGROUND

In 2008, the State of Florida adopted Statutes under Title XXXII, Regulation of Professions and Occupations, Chapter 468, which resulted in licensure of individuals and companies that provide mold‐related services such as mold assessment and mold remediation in Florida.

According to Part XVI, section 468.84, Legislative purpose, it states, “The [Florida] Legislature finds it necessary in the interest of the public safety and welfare, to prevent damage to real and personal property, to avert economic injury to the residents of this state, and to regulate persons and companies that hold themselves out to the public as qualified to perform mold‐related services.”

This action came after months of thorough and exhaustive review by state legislative and regulatory authorities.  The views and opinions of the private sector were given serious consideration through a series of stakeholder meetings and hearings in 2006 and 2007. Florida’s Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) and the Florida Department of Health (DOH) were involved in helping legislators determine the necessity for mold‐related regulations.

The law went into effect July 1, 2010. Required licensure of mold‐related service providers was delayed but became effective March 1, 2011, with enforcement applicable starting in July 2011.

Since July 1, 2010, it is estimated that between 2,500 to 3,000 individuals and companies have obtained or applied for Florida licenses as mold assessors and/or remediators. For each individual certified person or entity, thousands of dollars were spent on training costs, examination fees, and state licensing fees. It is estimated that the state of Florida has already received $750,000 to $1 million in revenue from licensing fees to date.

Prior to the adoption of state regulations requiring licensing of mold‐related service providers, IAQA took the position that, “While allowing any person(s) or company to provide these services can lead to unscrupulous deeds damaging the industry’s overall reputation, laws and regulations that are unreasonable, anti‐competitive or overly restrictive could have an adverse affect on the industry.”

In 2007 IAQA voiced general support for efforts in Florida to license mold‐related service providers, with the caveats that such regulations should only be enacted after detailed and careful study by the state, agencies, including the FL DOH and the FL DBPR, and coupled with meetings and consultation with private sector stakeholders, scientists, and representatives of industry. IAQA also advocated a position that those seeking professional credentials in microbial assessment and/or microbial remediation should be permitted to obtain certification from an independent, credible, third‐party‐accredited certification providers in lieu of state administered training and/or testing requirements. Such an approach relieves the states of bureaucratic and administrative expense while taking advantage of voluntary, industry‐consensus programs already established.

The current Florida regulations were created and implemented in a manner mostly supported by IAQA. That is, the process included thorough, responsible consideration by public and private sector representatives, and the rules implemented recognize accredited certification bodies as developers and administrators of examinations required for licensure.

IAQA POSITION ON FLORIDA HB 4171 & SB 1244
AND THE POTENTIAL REPEAL OF FLORIDA’S MOLD‐RELATED SERVICES LICENSING REGULATIONS

On February 16, 2011, Florida State Representative Grant introduced a bill, HB 4171, in the Florida House that would repeal the newly effective mold licensing regulations. On February 21, 2011, State Senator Norman introduced a companion bill, SB 1244, in the Florida Senate for the same purpose. Both bills have been making their way through committees with high‐majority votes in favor of the bills.

In the analysis of HB 4171 presented to the Business & Consumer Affairs Subcommittee in March 2011, it states, “The bill is anticipated to have a negative fiscal impact on state trust funds from the reduction in fees associated with applications for licensure. The DBPR indicates that the actual reduction is unknown at this time as program requirements are not enforceable until July 1, 2011,” and, “A positive fiscal impact on state trust funds may be anticipated to occur from the reduction in cost associated with processing applications. The DBPR indicates that the actual positive impact is unknown at this time as program requirements are not enforceable until July 1, 2011.”

In essence, the state will lose revenue but also reduce its administrative costs. However, there is no evidence whether this will result in a net loss or net gain for the state trust funds. It is worth noting that while DBPR is responsible for processing applications, the mold licensing rules as written do not burden DBPR with the high cost of licensing activities related to the creation, maintenance and administration of proficiency examinations or training. Theoretically, the mold‐related services licensing program should have substantially lower administrative costs than other Florida licensing programs administered by DBPR or other state agencies.

Under the analysis of HB 4171 presented to the Business & Consumer Affairs Subcommittee, under the section titled, “Direct Economic Impact on Private Sector,” the analysis simply says, “Not anticipated to be significant.” IAQA strongly disagrees with that analysis. Currently, applicants must submit to a criminal background check, are required to attest that they have obtained general liability and errors and omissions insurance for both preliminary and post remediation mold assessment in the amount of no less than $1 million dollars (which is very costly to obtain), disclose contact and background information, complete a lengthy and complicated application, and submit substantial licensing fees. Companies that have worked to meet the current moldrelated services licensing requirements have spent thousands of dollars and resources to comply with the newly effective regulation, including training of personnel and certification testing through non‐governmental entities approved by DPBR. IAQA members have report d costs ranging between $3,500 and $7,500 per employee to become licensed. The economic downturn has placed a severe financial strain on many IAQA members’ businesses, and this new licensure has added to the impact. However, IAQA members are working to maintain compliance with the regulation in order to better serve the citizens of Florida and help raise the bar for the industry.

Another aspect of the current mold‐services licensing regulation that IAQA supported are the provisions requiring professional insurance. Though these provisions have likewise resulted in increased costs of doing business for IAQA members, there is widespread recognition that the insurance provisions benefit Florida citizens. IAQA supported the insurance provisions in the current regulation, despite the high cost of the insurance and the difficulty some contractors and consultants have in obtaining it.

CONCLUSION

Since the rules only became effective March 1, 2011, there has been insufficient time to determine if the current mold‐related services licensing program in Florida improves public safety and welfare, prevents damage to real and personal property, and averts economic injury to the residents of Florida. IAQA sees no evidence of any analysis of this nature by the state, its agencies or the private sector to make such a determination. In fact, in none of the legislative proposals is there any indication given as to why or how the repeal of mold licensing rules benefits the citizens of Florida.

It is IAQA’s position that prior to the repeal of the current Florida mold‐related services licensing rules, the state should conduct a review and analysis akin that those undertaken in 2006 and 2007 by state legislative representatives, state agencies, scientists, and public and private sector stakeholders.

Should a careful, deliberate determination be made by the state of Florida that it is in the best interests of the citizens of Florida to repeal the current mold‐related services licensing program, those best interests should be communicated to the citizens and businesses of the state. Included should be an explanation of how not requiring mold‐related service providers to be licensed and carry professional and liability insurance benefits Florida consumers.

If the mold licensing rules are repealed, it is IAQA’s position that the state of Florida should refund to all current mold‐related services license holders all costs associated with obtaining said licensure, including but not limited to fees paid to DBPR and other state and federal agencies as part of the application process, and related costs directly associated with the pursuit of compliance with Florida’s current mold‐related services licensing regulations.

Please direct any questions regarding this position statement to:

INDOOR AIR QUALITY ASSOCIATION, INC.
c/o Glenn Fellman, Executive Director
12339 Carroll Avenue
Rockville, MD 20852
(301) 231‐8388
gfellman@iaqa.org

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