Get Jesse Investigation: Policing unlicensed contractors

Print
Email
|

by JESSE JONES / KING 5 News

NWCN.com

Posted on June 14, 2010 at 11:00 PM

Updated Friday, Jun 3 at 12:03 PM

For months we've told you about John Mulinski, a Covington contractor who's been cited for working without registration for decades.

Steve McClain, the Assistant Director of Labor & Industries, tells me Mulinski is known as a crafty individual.

"He's trying to find ways to cheat and he's as creative as we've seen any contractor out there," he said.

McClain heads up Contractor Compliance for the agency and has just 27 inspectors to cover the state. The agency registers 55,000 contractors each year, so reigning in folks like Mulinski is a difficult task.

"Finding them working on a job site is a real challenge," he said. "Once we find them there, knowing that they are registered, who are employees and who are workers? Those things are all part of the investigative process and are challenges."

Right now, an unregistered contractor can only face a misdemeanor charge in court. Senate bill 6575 may have helped this situation. The bill would have made a third strike for unregistered contracting a felony, punishable by 5 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

The Building Industry Association of Washington is often at odds with L&I, but Erin Shannon who represents BIAW says they agree on tougher laws for unregistered contractors.

"We want to do everything we can to get these guys off the street," said Shannon.

In fact, Shannon says BIAW was in favor of the three-strikes portion of the bill.

"If you have an unregistered contractor, it's not a level playing field, so they are competing with guys who are playing by the rules."

The three-strikes portion of SB 6575 was killed in committee and was later vetoed by the governor.

I checked Labor and Industries records and found 32 contractors that would be members of the "Three Strikes Club" in King County alone. All of those contractors got their strikes in just three years.

"We can chase them around the state to get them in court and prosecute them," McClain says, "but if the business is there, it's going to be difficult to stop them from doing that work."

Both state regulators and the builders lobby agree that checking out the L&I website is the best way to find out a contractor's history. Make sure you check it out before hiring anyone to do work on your home.

Check out a Registered Contractor: https://fortress.wa.gov/lni/bbip/

Print
Email
|