On May 28, Florida Governor Rick Scott signed into law a bill to ban texting while driving actively supported supported by ASSE and its members in Florida. ASSE joined in a state-wide, bipartisan effort to pass the bill that was led by the FL DNT TXT+DRIVE COALITION, as the press release announcing Governor Scott’s action indicates. The new law now bans anyone from typing on a device while operating a moving vehicle, though texting while stopped at a red light would still be considered acceptable. The first offense is a $30 fine and any additional tickets within 5 years is a $60 fine with 3 points taken off the offender’s driver’s license.
ASSE and its members in Maryland expressed support for a bill (HB 1486) that would require the Maryland Department of Labor to develop and adopt a safety questionnaire and a safety rating system for the state’s public sector employers to use to help ensure that bidders for public sector construction projects can demonstrate a commitment to worker safety and health. ASSE’s letter to Delegate Brian K. McHale (D-Baltimore City) stressed the importance of contractor prequalification in managing the safety and health of workers on construction sites among ASSE’s members and the best construction employers. Contractor prequalification is also an integral element in the
ANSI/ASSE A10.33 Safety Requirements for Construction & Demoltion, ASSE said.
Facing certain defeat on the Arizona Senate floor, Senator Steve Farley still spoke with eloquence and calm determination in support of an amendment that would move forward his bill (SB1218) to ban texting in the state. Senator Farley’s defense of the effort and the debate against it was captured YouTube. ASSE’s members in Arizona fully supported Senator Farley and his bill.
Inspired by fellow ASSE members’ effort to ban texting in Arizona, Florida’s ASSE
members have joined in an effort to pass legislation that would ban texting in their state. Letters to Senator Detert (R-Venice) and Representative Holder (R-Sarasota) back their legislation, SB 52/HB 13, which is seen as having a good chance of passing into law this year. ASSE also has joined the FL DNT TXT+DRIVE Coalition in support of the effort. HB 13 won the support of the House Economic Affairs Committee on April 3. ASSE’s policy calls for much more comprehensive approaches to combat distracted driving. In states like Arizona and Florida where no distracted driving laws exist, though, banning texting is a first realistic step towards a more comprehensive goal.
On behalf of its nearly 600 Arizona members, ASSE voiced support for a bill (SB 1218) by Senator Steve Farley to prohibit text messaging while operating a motor vehicle in Arizona. While ASSE’s own policy position calls for a total ban on the use of electronic devices while driving, ASSE saw that SB 1218 could serve as a significant first step for Arizona in addressing the deadly and, to the economy of Arizona, expensive risk of distracted driving on the state’s highways. Based on Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and Arizona Department of Transportation data, estimates can be made that 181 deaths and 10,901 injuries in Arizona could be linked to this risk in 2011. Likewise, the economic loss to the state from cell phone use on thet state’s highways can be estimated at $638 million in 2011.
Concerned with the lack of outreach to safety and health professionals and the quick action taken to adopt amended rules, ASSE filed a comment asking that the
Illinois Department of Public Health hold a hearing on the changes to its rules governing Asbestos Abatement for Public and Private School and Commercial and Public Buildings.
On behalf of its nearly 3,000 members in California, ASSE sent a letter to the sponsor of state legislation that has been reported will be used by the California Industrial Hygiene Council (CIHC) to ensure that only CIHs would be able to supervise or direct the monitoring of control methods for PELs in California workplaces. Since CIHs are not uniquely qualified to do such work, ASSE said it would oppose the CIHC’s effort. ASSE’s members have earned CSPs, CIHs, CHMMs and a wide variety of professional designations. As a result, ASSE is committed to ensuring that any one occupational safety and health designation is not inappropriately given an unfair competitive advantage through legislation or regulations.
ASSE’s members in Michigan have stated their staunch support for Michigan’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) in a letter to the sponsor of a bill (SB 14) bill that would abolish the state plan. Michigan members cited the agency’s ability to work flexibly with employers, unique consultation services, its positive budget return to the state and, most importantly, the state’s positive fatility, injury and illness rates.
ASSE members in Maryland have taken a stand against a bill that would establish two new industrial hygiene designations in the state. In an ASSE Region IV letter to the bill’s sponsor, members opposed the bill because it exacerbated the confusion employers already face in determining quality, recognized professional designations in the occupational safety and health field and inappropriately recognized a membership organization, giving that group an unfair competitive advantage in Maryland.
Following opposition from ASSE and others, the House sponsor of a Michigan bill (HB 6205) to license sanitarians offered a last-minute Substitute that quickly passed the Michigan House on November 10. ASSE opposed the original bill because it would have required a sanitarian license to do occupational safety and health and environmental health. The Substitute provides a carve-out for safety and health practitioners, but the definitions are still overly broad and threaten environmental practitioners’ ability to practice. The bill also would define occupational safety and health practice over our members’ objections. In response, ASSE’s members in Michigan have written a letter told the Senate sponsor of the companion bill (SB 1407) of their continued objections to this legislation.
ASSE members in Michigan are working to make sure a bill that would license sanitarians in Michigan does not keep them from practicing as safety, health and environmental professionals in that state. The bill, perhaps unintentionally, would require anyone doing occupational safety and health and most environmental work to be a sanitarian. Letters to the House sponsor of HB 6205 and Senate sponsors of SB 1407 have been sent by ASSE. Michigan members also have been contacting their state representatives about the bill, as an ASSE GA email blast encouraged them to do. Most importantly, on August 28, Steve Monet, Pat Fisher and Drake Drobnick took the time to meet with the key House staffer at the capitol in Lansing who told them similar opposition is coming from other sectors, including business and state agencies. The sponsor now recognizes the bill’s unanticipated consequences and is taking steps to draft a new bill limited to sanitarians’ public health scope of practice, which will be shared with ASSE and other stakeholders for comment.
In Arkansas and Maryland, ASSE is taking a stand for all SH&E professionals by opposing legislation that would inappropriately give preference to one SH&E designation in dealing with possible risks associated with mold. In Arkansas, an ASSE letter objects to a bill that has already passed the House. In Maryland, an ASSE letter states for the record our Maryland members’ opposition to a bill even though the bill has already failed.
To be clear, ASSE does not oppose CIHs doing mold work. What ASSE has consistently objected to over the years are any efforts intended to keep SH&E professionals who may have the experience and training to assess and address mold risks from doing that work. ASSE members agree that nothing in the CIH designation itself determines a unique ability to deal with mold risks. Given ASSE’s wide-ranging membership that includes CIHs, CSPs, CHMMs and every other SH&E designation – as well as members working towards such designations – it is ASSE’s purpose to protect and promote a level playing field among SH&E professionals. ASSE does not seek competitive advantages for any one group of SH&E professionals over other SH&E professionals when such an advantage is not based in professional training and experience.