Earlier this week, we reported on a possible conflict of interest involved in the Republican push to repeal state regulations for HVAC technicians in West Virginia. Now that charge has reached the state government, as one member of Local 33 filed an official complaint with the Ethics Commission.
Local 33 member Steve Hancock cited the questionable tactics of Delegate Eric Householder, R-Berkeley, in his outspoken opposition to laws that would protect the public from unsafe, substandard HVAC work. Starting July 1, new HVAC technicians will be required to pass a test and pay a license fee, without which they cannot work on HVAC units or fire dampers legally. The West Virginia Legislature passed the HVAC regulations last year, joining about a dozen other states in regulation of the industry.
A repeal of these regulations would allow Householder to gain financially by paying lower wages to the 13 HVAC technicians he employs through his business, Air-Row Sheet Metal in Martinsburg, according to the complaint filed this week.
“We believe Delegate Householder introduced this bill for no other reason than his own special interests,” said Steve Hancock, a member of the Sheet Metal Workers union in Wheeling. “With his bill, he can hire any old ‘Joe’ off the street to put in HVAC systems. You can hire people cheaper if they don’t have the skill set.”
In the ethics complaint, Hancock attached a recent Ethics Commission advisory opinion that concluded state lawmakers should not sponsor legislation if they have a financial interest and work for a “business which is among the principal beneficiaries of the legislation proposed,” according to an article in The Charleston Gazette yesterday.
“From reading the ethics laws of West Virginia, I have come to the conclusion that Delegate Householder has violated [state law] by being the primary sponsor of a bill that will directly impact his primary source of income,” Hancock wrote in his complaint. Read the full article here.