Assemblyman Troy Singleton and Herb Conaway, Jr., M.D. recently sponsored legislation requiring any person licensed, or attempting to receive licensing, in order to conduct property assessments, to receive an extensive criminal history check before beginning employment. This legislation was approved by an assembly board soon after.
A-3572, the legislation passed, was spurred to action by an event in the town of Palmyra, also the lawmakers' 7th district, in which the town hired a firm to evaluate homes. The contracted employee was soon after found to be stealing prescription drugs from the residences. The particular employee was not submitted to a thorough background check before licensing was received.
Troy Singleton expressed that, while most municipalities, and by extension the companies they hire, are very serious about the property assessments being conducted, it is impossible to gauge a person’s character and integrity without a thorough and extensive criminal background check. Singleton hoped that this piece of legislation would protect towns, homeowners, and contractors from dangerous people entering community members’ homes or businesses, or other causing other potential liabilities.
Herb Conaway added that a homeowner should be able to be at peace with the fact that the person inspecting or evaluating their property is a trusted professional. He goes on to say that, property assessments are of the highest importance and must be done with integrity and respect for the law, and the official presiding over it should submit to a background check for the safety of those homeowners.
Most specifically, the legislation would require technical assistants, home inspectors, sub-code officials, municipal code officials, as well as anyone else practicing in the business of valuing and inspecting personal property for municipalities, to undergo an extensive screening process.
To receive licensing, one would be required to submit their name, address, and fingerprint data to the Division of Consumer Affairs board. The legislation would allow any state agency to appoint and license individuals to obtain a background check. It would also require a match against fingerprint identification with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the State Bureau of Identification in the Division of State Police, as is lawfully consistent with state and federal statutes, regulations, and rules.
The person, or the company wishing to endow employment, is responsible for handling all fiscal fees for the check, encompassing all administration and processing costs. According to the legislation, the Home Inspection Advisory Committee has the ability to license for employment or to prevent the applicant from beginning work related to home inspection based upon the findings and the committee’s ruling concerning the background check.
With this bill enacted, the residents of Palmyra can feel much more secure and safe in the fact that their inspection personnel have been vetted for the integrity they should expect from a professional they are inviting into their homes. These checks will ensure that the people in these positions will not only respect property, home, and privacy, but will also provide the city or municipality with added peace of mind that their employee will not become a liability in the future.
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Author: Michael Klazema