Originally created 05/26/98

Blasts passage of 'Christmas tree' bill 052698 - The Augusta Chronicle



I learned a new phrase recently from a local legislator -- "Christmas tree bill." This refers to a last-minute bill in the Georgia Legislature when "every one hangs something on" a final bill during the closing moments of the session.

Thus H.B. 300 was "hung on" through the efforts of lobbyist Bruce Widener -- who gloats over his "extremely successful" action.

What does Mr. Widener's law, H.B. 300, do?

This new law enforces the requirement that the repair of your household air conditioning can only be performed by contractors who are licensed by the state to design air conditioning systems for new construction.

In the Augusta area, we are fortunate to have several such sophisticated design companies who serve our needs well. We understand why their usual charge for repair is over $200.

We are also blessed with dozens of fully qualified, EPA certified, locally licensed repair agencies who make no claims of engineering design capability. These "unlicensed (state)" companies provide repairs to existing air conditioning systems -- window units, through-the wall units, or split central systems. These local companies are often members of the Better Business Bureau and usually exhibit a local street address in newspaper and yellow page advertising. They are also, mostly, small companies who serve the household customer well at comparatively low prices.

H.B. 300, as passed, provides for fines of $1,000 per day and confiscation of service vehicles of any "unlicensed (state)" repair agency that fixes your air conditioner after July 1, 1998.

I have written to each legislator to enlist support for withholding enforcement of this "Christmas tree" law until the Legislature can take another look. It is my understanding that the decision must be made at the office of the secretary of state in Atlanta....

Richard S. Fox,Augusta