The Building Tradesman Newspaper

Friday, November 15, 2013

Bill to weaken elevator licensing passes House

By The Building Tradesman

LANSING - Michigan House Democrats were united in opposition to a pair of bills that eases state regulations on installers of residential chair lifts and platform lifts.

No matter. With Republicans firmly in control of a majority of the House, HB 4970 and HB 4971 were adopted by 58-50 votes, with only a single Republican lawmaker joining Dems, who voted as a bloc against the measures. The bills affecting the elevator industry now go before the state Senate.

As we reported in our last issue, House Bill 4970 would allow any contractor with a home builder’s license to install a residential vertical platform lift (like a wheelchair lift) or a residential stair climber (like a motorized chair attached to a wall next to a staircase) without any state oversight or licensing. The installer would have to be certified by the manufacturer.

House Bill 4971, according to the House Fiscal Agency, would create an exemption for “residential lift contractors from having to meet the elevator journeyman licensing requirements of Public Act 333 of 1976.” That law requires a licensed elevator journeyman to perform the installation, alteration, maintenance, repair, servicing, inspecting, adjusting, or testing of an elevator.

Any installation of a residential or commercial elevator would continue to be governed under existing state law.

Dave "Shorty" Kuras, business manager of Elevator Constructors Local 36 and vice chairman of the state Elevator Safety Board, testified before the House Regulatory Affairs Committee last month and urged that they vote against the bills. It's a safety issue, he said. "Just attending a class from the manufacturer for a day or two, then not installing one for a year does not qualify a person to safely install this type of equipment," he testified.

The proposed rules for the elevator industry are part of what Democrats are calling a Republican-sponsored  "war on regulation" in Michigan. Electrical workers and their contractors are also trying to kill Senate Bill 358, which was adopted in the Senate mostly along party lines on Oct. 17. Now in the House, that bill would significantly reduce standards for electricians, allowing anyone to perform electrical work in a mining or manufacturing setting, without needing a license.