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Home builders want county-issued license

February 11, 1999|By LAURA ERNDE

ANNAPOLIS - Washington County lawmakers have agreed to seek legislation that would allow the county to license home builders.

The legislation would allow the county to regulate the building industry rather than be covered by any statewide rules that are approved by the Maryland General Assembly.

The legislation was requested by the Home Builders Association of Washington County through the Washington County Commissioners.

The county builders association has a code of ethics for its members, said President Jim Fahey.

But the association believes a license law would provide better protection for both consumers and contractors.

"This would weed out some of the bad apples," Fahey said.

The builders would rather have local control to deal with problems unique to Washington County, which borders two states, he said.

Fahey believes the license rules could be enforced more effectively by local authorities than by a state agency.

The state doesn't license builders yet, although it does license home improvement contractors.

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Fahey said it doesn't make sense that a contractor who builds a $200,000 home only needs a $17 state business license but one who installs a $100 storm door must take an exam and show proof of liability insurance.

The delegation voted 4-2 to submit the bill.

Sen. Alex X. Mooney and Del. Joseph R. Bartlett, both Republicans who represent Frederick and Washington counties, voted against the bill on the grounds it constitutes more regulation.

But Del. John P. Donoghue, D-Washington, and Del. Christopher B. Shank, R-Washington, said the legislation itself would not regulate the industry. It would only give the county the local control to regulate.

Donoghue said Washington County might lose its opportunity for local control if a statewide regulation is passed.

"You're sort of throwing in the towel. If it's a statewide bill we should fight it," Mooney said.

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