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The PHCC Gazette
Letter from the Maryland Attorney General
The PHCC Gazette Copyrighted 1997-98 William J. Baumbach II
Volume 3, Issue 20 Plumbing � Heating � Cooling � Contractors of Northern Virginia, Inc. May 1998

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This May Meeting
The sponsor for the May meeting is Vamac,Inc.

At The Last Meeting
The sponsor for the dinner meeting was Thos. Somerville with N.H. Yates cosponsoring. The door prizes were provided were A.O. Smith, jackets and were won by Laurie Criegler, Jody Lilliston, William Baumbach, Charlie Fields and Theresa Dagenhart.

The winner of the 50/50 drawing was Frank Garneski who took home $71.00 for his part.

We have a new member -Robert Reilly of Reilly Plumbing, Locust Grove, VA

The second seminar was also well attended and hopefully everyone picked up a few pointers from it.

Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors will face stiff competition from deregulated electric utilities that will set up service companies. They’ll install and maintain water heaters, furnaces and air conditioners.

Do you have Illegal Lead Plumbing Fixtures in Your Inventory?

Beginning August 6, 1998 it will be illegal to manufacture or sell plumbing products that do not meet the new National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) standard 61, Section 9. and the Safe Drinking Water Act of 1996. For lead content.

Internet News

PHCC-NA Member Contractor Web sites by State
These addresses were obtained from members who returned their Confidential Member DataProfiles. http://www.naphcc.org/mbrsites.htm

Send your E-mail address to Baumbach@phcc.org so I can add it to the PHCC-List@phcc.org List Server. This is an E-mail list that I run and if your E-mail address is on it you will receive messages I send to it along with everyone else that is on the list. Or to subscribe to a list yourself, send an E-mail message to listserv@phcc.org with the following in the body of the message: Subscribe PHCC-List Your_Full_Name

See how PHCC is fighting for you on the Hill in the updated and expanded Government Relations section of the PHCC Web site. Now you can log into the Member’s Only section and access a PHCC "Position Papers" segment. Also available at your fingertips, is an update on the fight against Unfair Utility Competition, a directory of links to state legislatures, and dozens of useful links to various government agencies. Need a password to access the site? Contact Tisha Burke burke@naphcc.org

10 Million People are Purchasing Off the Internet*
Make sure these 10 million people can access your website, and watch your business grow! If you filled out your Confidential Member Data Profile, your web site is now linked on PHCC–National Association’s homepage. If you have a website and it is not listed there, return your member profile to have it added. You can fill out the survey online. If you haven’t set up your site yet, check out the links to see what your fellow members are doing.
Source: U.S. Department of Commerce’s Study on the Emerging Digital Economy. http://www.ecommerce.gov

News from PHCC-NA

WARNING: You Need More Sunlight
Looking a little pale? The person who signs up the most new contractor members to PHCC in 1998 will automatically win a trip for two to Hawaii. A second trip for two to Hawaii will be awarded to a second recruiter. Their name will be drawn from a pool of all those people who sign up at least five new contractor members. There will also be plaques awarded at convention to the states and locals who show the most percentage and number increase in their membership. Contact your state office today to get new membership forms and start signing up new members. Contact Pat Brookover brookover@naphcc.org for more details.

Do the PUHCA Polka!
PHCC contractors are dancing in the streets since PUHCA repeal has been declared dead. Congress on April 21 decided to not even consider repealing the Public Utility Holding Company Act (PUHCA) which would have permitted the largest utilities to use every means at their disposal to compete unfairly. And it is the 150 PHCC members who traveled to Washington, D.C., for "A Day on Capitol Hill", to lobby against unfair utility competition who helped put the nails in the coffin of this dead bill.

On Thursday, April 16, just five days before PUHCA repeal was to be considered, PHCC members from all over the country met with the offices of their elected officials and urged their senators to oppose S.621, a bill to repeal PUHCA. Many Capitol Hill staffers were glad to hear from small business owners on utility deregulation because the only businesses they had heard from up until then were utilities. And when April 21 came and went, the bill was not even brought up for consideration because it was clear to the Senate that there was simply not enough support for the bill. Contractors have won their first big legislative battle, but war for fair competition continues.

The U.S. Senate had planned to vote on S.621, a bill to repeal PUHCA, back in February. But an intense round of Capitol Hill visits and letter writing by contractors, small business owners and consumer advocates convinced the Senate leadership that more time was needed to look at stand-alone PUHCA repeal. April 21 was chosen as the date to debate and vote on the bill.

Because S.621 came out of the Senate Banking Committee and dealt with the Securities and Exchange Commission, which administers PUHCA, many Senators

were fooled into believing S.621 was only a minor banking issue. In reality it would have removed many of the regulatory safeguards stopping the largest utilities from abusing their monopoly status.

PHCC and a broad-based coalition of small businesses, consumer advocates, and even other utilities went to Capitol Hill and helped the Senators understand that this issue was really about utility deregulation and that any changes to PUHCA should not be done independently but only in conjunction with the overall restructuring of the electric industry.

News from PHCC-VA

The State convention had a great showing of apprentices. There was 18 in the plumbing and 8 in the HVAC contest.

July 1998 VA-PHCC will distribute a coupon book to VA contractor members.

Lower Membership Rates are Here!

This letter below is from the Attorneys General's office in response to my E-mail message to him.


Attorney General

Chief, Consumer
Protection Division
Proteabon Drvmon

Deputy Attorneys General
Writer’s Direct Dial No.
(410) 576-6573

William Baumbach
10509 Orchard Street
Fairfax, VA 22030

Re: Warner Plumbing

March 27, 1998

Dear Mr. Baumbach:

Attorney General Curran has asked me to respond to your E-mail letter of March 5, 1998 in reference to the Consumer Protection Division's action against Warner Plumbing.

The Division's allegations against Warner Plumbing involve the performance of plumbing services by individuals who are not licensed plumbers. Many years ago the Maryland General Assembly enacted the requirement that licensed plumbers be used to perform plumbing services, and that requirement continues to be the law in Maryland. Section 12-601 of the Business Occupations and Professions Article of the Annotated Code of Maryland provides that a person may not provide plumbing services or assist in providing plumbing services unless licensed by the Plumbing Board.

Maryland's Court of Appeals has held that an individual who provides a service to a consumer is making an implied representation that he or she is legally qualified to provide the service, including that the individual has complied with all applicable licensing requirements. A consumer who calls a plumbing company should be provided with services by a licensed plumber. Sending a person who is not legally-qualified to the consumer's home violates Maryland's Consumer Protection Act.

This office shares your concerns about fairness, but we believe that sending unlicensed individuals to perform plumbing services is unfair to consumers who reasonably expect that the person who is performing plumbing repairs in their home is legally qualified to do so. It is also unfair to those plumbers who have undergone the training and study necessary to obtain the required plumbing licenses if individuals have not done so are able to hold themselves out as Plumbers.

If, as you indicate in your letter, there are other companies in Maryland performing plumbing services without using licensed plumbers, I would be interested in receiving any evidence that you have of such practices. I also recommend that you report those companies to the State Board of Plumbing in the Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation. The Board's address is 500 N. Calvert Street, Baltimore, MD 21202.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions regarding this matter.

Steven M. Sakamoto-Wengel
Assistant Attorney General


The Honorable Barbara Mikulski
The Honorable Thomas V. "Mike" Miller
The Honorable Casper Taylor
The Honorable Michael Busch

200 Saint Paul Place, 16th Floor * Baltimore, Maryland 21202-2021 Telephone Numbers:(410)5764550*D.C. Metro:470-7534 * Fax:(410)5764566 Consumer Complaints and Inquiries:(410)528-8662 * Health Advocacy Unit/Billing Complaints:(410)528-1840 Telephone for Deaf:(410)576-6372


This letter below is my E-mail message to him.

The Honorable J. Joseph Curran, Jr.
Attorney General State of Maryland
200 St. Paul Place
Baltimore, MD. 21202

I admire your interest in wanting to protect the consumers of the great state of Maryland. Too many people in this day and age are trying to make easy money by taking advantage of less fortunate, and someone has to take a stand and safe guard the people.

My concern is that the Maryland’s Consumer Protection Act has not been well publicized, leaving not only the less fortunate unprotected, but leaving business people who have every intention of providing good, fair, and valued service, in the dark and unintentionally in noncompliance with this unknown Act.

Mr. Curran, I speak of someone who began his business as any small businessperson, on a shoestring, with the American dream of becoming successful, and fulfilled that dream.

While fulfilling the dream of success, he has shared his knowledge, and profits with others. He has trained many people to become sufficient and support families by providing services in an educated, fair and business like manner.

The man I am speaking of is Tom Warner, this isn’t a man who would snub his nose at the law, he isn’t a man who has tried to do anything except live the American dream. He has supervised and trained people from all walks of life to become respected service technicians, and while the only people who don’t make mistakes are people who do nothing, he and his employees have rendered needed service for the people of your Great State.

I believe the failure in this case is that of Maryland state government, when and where has it been made public that Mr. Warner and others like him were breaking laws, regulations or health codes?

There is a problem in your state. There are giant discount stores that hire anyone off the street to install items, which require trained personal to install, such as water heaters, furnaces, gas logs, ovens. The people I am speaking of do not purchase permits, nor get inspections, they carry no workers comp or liability insurance, and they certainly do not have either journeyman or a masters license nor anyone with these licenses supervising them.

I hope you will reconsider your action in the case against Mr. Warner.

I hope you will provide guidance to the people of your state about the Consumer Protection Act and attempt to educate contractors so that they can be in compliance with this Act.

Everyone wants to be treated fair, and the fair thing to do in this case is to educate, then as contractors fail to comply you will have done your first job, and you can begin to clean house of the unethical people in the business.


9975 Pennsylvania Ave
Manassas, Va. 20110
Ph: 703-367-7900
Fax: 703-691-0946

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The PHCC Gazette Copyrighted 1997-98 William J. Baumbach II