Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Legislative hot spots to watch

SIMA leads charge for impactful reform at the state level.

By Martin Tirado, CAE
Winter was frigid at times, but proposed and pending legislation impacting snow and ice companies has been heating up. Here’s a summary of current activities and the role SIMA is taking on them.

New York “call-in” pay

Since our February Snow Business report, the New York Department of Labor issued a regulatory ruling that will impact employee schedule planning for companies, including those performing snow and ice services. Essentially, if someone cancels a scheduled shift with less than 72 hours’ notice, an employer must pay the employee for 4 hours of work that day at minimum wage.

SIMA submitted a letter based on feedback from member service providers highlighting the ways this regulation will hurt their business growth and hiring. Unfortunately, this regulatory change appears to be set to start this spring; although SIMA is supporting a green industry-led legislative coalition that has the support of some New York senators to exempt businesses with 500 or fewer employees from the regulation. The concern for those outside of New York is that this could be a catalyst for equivalent regulatory change in other states and provinces.

Partnerships for progress
SIMA joined several groups to sponsor the New York State Turfgrass association lobbying day in February.

SIMA is also collaborating with Landscape Ontario and the Minnesota Nursery & Landscape Association to actively pursue legislation that models the New Hampshire legislation passed in 2013. This legislation provides for voluntary salt applicator training with the benefit that those who complete training and continuing education are provided liability protection for themselves and the properties they service. This is markedly different than “pass the baton” legislation where service providers and property owners are battling each other over who is liable for slip and fall injuries.

New Hampshire’s Green SnowPro training and certification has proven to be a successful method in lowering salt applied to paved surfaces while providing for liability protections that applicators and properties need. Additionally, the value of training is gaining momentum. Recently, the Planning Board of Windham, NH, implemented new construction plans that require winter maintenance to be performed by NH Green SnowPro-certified contractors.

SIMA’s leadership in salt application research is ongoing and led by industry expert Phill Sexton, CSP, of WIT Advisers in conjunction with the technology power of Viaesys. This research provides the essential foundation of knowledge in salt application that can lead to change.

Shaping the future
SIMA has remained actively engaged in supporting efforts beyond Ontario and Minnesota. Among others, Virginia, Vermont, Maine and local areas of New York are considering models similar to the New Hampshire Green SnowPro training and liability protection. That’s a triple win: Service providers enhance their training and are viewed as professionals with more knowledge; the relationship between service providers and properties is enhanced; and an immediate need is met to better protect the green infrastructure and clean water as a natural resource.

Legislative actions are gaining speed, and the most effective solutions will be those that protect service providers while challenging them to obtain the necessary education to be considered experts in snow and ice management. The industry will put itself at risk if it only seeks to regulate itself with standards or legislative activities. A more comprehensive model that engages the facilities management industry, along with all other stakeholders, is the way forward. We must seek shared liability, trust and reasonable expectations on all sides.

Martin Tirado, CAE, is chief executive officer of SIMA. Email him at