State Rep. Simpson calls for penalty to be raised for contractors working without license during a state of emergency from misdemeanor to felony
It has been a week since Hurricane Sally made landfall in Gulf Shores, and in its wake, it has left a path of destruction in need of repair.
Often after such a storm, a flood of contractors from out of state will make their ways to the affected areas, and sometimes take advantage of those in need of repair work. However, often as is the case with out-of-state contractors, they are not licensed in Alabama. If something goes wrong and a hired contractor cannot complete the work they were hired to do following a storm, the most vulnerable take a hit.
During an interview with Mobile radio’s FM Talk 106.5, State Rep. Matt Simpson (R-Daphne) discussed his bill initially introduced during the 2020 legislative session that would increase the penalty for unlicensed contractors doing work during a state of emergency, which he had discussed with Gov. Kay Ivey and her staff during a recent visit to survey hurricane damage.
“One of the things I was able to bring up to Governor Ivey was a bill that I had last session, which was HB194,” he said. “What it did was when the governor declares a state of emergency, it would increase it from a misdemeanor to a felony for those that are working on homes for homebuilding repair and doing those types of contracting works if they are not licensed in Alabama. What we are facing right now is so many people are coming into our area and taking advantage of our citizens and having them to pay these astronomical fees and not doing the work properly, and doing the way they’re going to do. It’s very tough to prove fraud.”
“The difficulty with proving fraud, and I can tell you from being a prosecutor on this stuff, is you have to prove at the time of the offense they intended to commit that fraud,” Simpson continued. “It’s very easy for them to come in and say, ‘No, we lost a worker,’ or, ‘No, we lost materials, and I couldn’t complete the job, and I couldn’t do anything. I didn’t intend to defraud that person. It just happened that way.’ That’s very tough to prove in a felony.”
“Right now, it is a misdemeanor in the state if you work without a license — if you don’t have the proper bonding and licensing through the homebuilders association or the correct agencies,” he added. “What that bill did last year was it would have made it a felony if it occurred during a state of emergency. I brought this up to the governor and Jo Bonner. They were very receptive to it. What I want to do is have that bill, in the event, we have a special session — have that bill included into the call for that special session.”
Simpson’s prior effort during the 2020 regular session with the legislation passed the House by a 97-2 margin but failed to get a vote in the State Senate.
@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and the University of South Alabama, the editor of Breitbart TV, a columnist for Mobile’s Lagniappe Weekly and host of Mobile’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. on FM Talk 106.5.