OLCA Legislative Efforts

Through maintaining a strong relationship with our legislative consultant and the Oregon Landscape Contractors Board (LCB), OLCA has assisted in protecting and enhancing local contracting laws as they impact landscape work.

Background:
The State of Oregon is relatively unique as it provides and requires a Landscape Contractors License that is managed through a semi-independent Landscape Contractors Board. This license requires passage of a formal test and allows individuals and companies to perform most landscape work without permits if licensed.

2018 Legislative Update:
In 2018, Governor Kate Brown requested a bill (HB 4144) to be introduced to make it easier for individuals in the construction industry to become licensed, obtain funding to start a sole proprietorship construction contracting business and ultimately to expand the industry workforce and availability of affordable housing. As passed by the Legislature, HB 4144 waives licensing fees for certain construction contractors, plumbing contractors and electrical contractors. It eliminates the fees and training requirements for residential construction contractor applicants with eight years of specified experience and allows sole proprietor construction contracting businesses to receive financial support in certain circumstances. After working with the House and Senate committee chairs that dealt with HB 4144 and being assured that landscape contractor licensure program would not be part of any amendment discussions, OLCA took no position on the bill. However, the issue of changing or eliminating the landscape contractor's licensure program or removing the experience and examination requirements to become a licensed contractor continues with some legislators. Oregon and other states are considering streamlining occupational licensure programs.

2019 Legislative Focus:
Following this legislative interest in modifying landscape licensure to help with workforce entry, the Governor’s office asked the LCB to formulate ideas and criteria under which a new limited license would be feasible through rule-making. A new license of this type seemed imminent, so the LCB board saw the opportunity to shape this outcome. After board discussion and feedback from members of interested stakeholder groups, including the Oregon Landscape Contractors proposed rule has been filed which is summarized below.

  • One-year landscape related experience qualification required;
  • Licensee must be the owner of the business
  • $5,000 job limit (per jobsite, per customer, per year). An increase to $6,500 may be allowed after 24 months without a claim filed or civil penalty issued
  • Must pass laws, rules, and business practice section of the exam
  • No piercing of the dwelling allowed
Subcontracting would be allowed OLCA has supported this proposed rule change and is monitoring it through the process.

OLCA Legislative Reports


OLCA-PAC

To support our legislative efforts through supporting candidates who are aligned with our priorities, OLCAs has a Political Action Committee (OLCAPAC), which is administered and operated entirely at the discretion of an independent Board. It is registered with the State of Oregon and files financial reports periodically with the Secretary of State. Its Board consists of landscape contractors who determine which legislative candidates the PAC will support with a financial contribution. Financial support is provided to those legislative who believe that Oregon must have a strong business sector and are committed to the growth and well-being of the landscape industry.

Although administered separate from the OLCA board and leadership, it’s goal is to support OLCA’s legislative priorities. OLCA promotes voluntary contributions to OLCAPAC during our membership renewal and during occasional fund drives. To be relevant in the political landscape, having PAC funds to donate to legislative candidates is vital. Although voluntary, all OLCA members are encouraged to donate to the OLCAPAC.

To make a PAC pledge as an individual, click HERE.

To make a PAC pledge as company, click HERE.


OLCA's Legislative Accomplishments

In the 1997 Legislative Session, the Court of Appeals ruled that home builders could landscape residential projects without a landscape contractor’s license. 

  • OCLA responded by securing legislation that limited the exemption to a general contractor licensed under the Construction Contractors Board who performs landscaping work if the total value of the landscaping is less than $2,500 per residential dwelling and the landscaping work is performed on residential property for which the contractor is under contract for the construction of a new dwelling.

In 1999, OLCA secured passage of several bills beneficial to the industry:

  • SB 1034 which allowed licensed landscape contractors exempt from the “restricted energy electrician’s license” to install irrigation control wiring and outdoor lighting systems that do not exceed 300 volt-amperes per circuit.
  • SB 827, OLCA’s Nursery License Exemption, exempted licensed landscape contractors from having a nursery license if they purchase nursery stock for landscaping projects and not for retail resale.
  • HB 2062 which allowed licensed landscape contractors to perform certain construction activities (fences, decks, driveways, retaining walls and walkways) not in conjunction with landscaping work without registering with the Construction Contractors Board so long as the landscaping business maintained an increased bond ($10,000) with LCB.

During the 2001 Legislative Session, OLCA joined forces with the Landscape Contractors Board and scored a big victory.  The two organizations were successful in securing the passage of legislation, HB 2127, which made the State Landscape Contractors Board (LCB) a semi-independent board.  The LCB is no longer required to receive its management and support services from the Construction Contractors Board.  Instead, the LCB is able to employ a dedicated support staff to deal solely with the landscaping issues for consumers and contractors.  In other words, now the LCB controls its own destiny.

Also passed in 2001 were two other bills that OLCA supported:

  • HB 2191 which expanded the scope of work that landscape contractors can plan and construct from fountains to include “ornamental water features.”  The definition of “ornamental water features” included fountains, ponds, waterfalls, man-made streams and other decorative water-related constructions as identified by LCB rule.
  • HB 2192 which expanded the landscape contractors’ ability to install backflow prevention devices in not only irrigation systems but also ornamental water features.

In 2003, OLCA worked with LCB to successfully pass SB 919 in an effort to help regulate the use of the word “landscape” and its derivatives thereby reducing the confusion between landscape contracting businesses and landscape maintenance businesses.  The bill also clarified the terminology “casual, minor and inconsequential” work to narrow the exemption which had been misinterpreted over the years and abused by non-licensed construction contractors who have used this loophole as a means to install new landscapes without adequate training or knowledge. 

Again, in 2005, OLCA was successful in securing passage of an omnibus bill, HB 2069, to enhance the professionalism of the industry and to address a couple of other policy concerns for the industry.  The most important benefits of the bill include:

  • An exemption from the landscape contractor licensure requirements for persons employed by, and under direct supervision of, a licensed landscape contractor.  The Attorney General’s office had determined that the existing statute may not clearly preclude employees or leased employees of landscape contractors from being licensed in order to perform landscaping activities.
  • Approval for landscape contractors who employ a certified backflow assembly tester to repair and maintain irrigation backflow assemblies.
  • An amendment to the land use laws on exclusive farm use zone to explicitly allow a landscaping or landscape architecture services business when operated in conjunction with land used for the horticultural purpose of growing and marketing nursery stock to be listed as a use that may be approved as a conditional use. 
  • An increase in the bond requirements for landscape contractors based on the size of the contracts and work performed.
  • Authority for the Board to put a landscape contractor and the associated business on probation if three or more claims are filed against a business within a one-year period.
  • Establishment of an inactive status for landscape contractors not operating as a landscaping business. 
  • Clarification that the current exemption for general contractors doing certain landscaping work does not include irrigation work.

In 2007, OLCA focused much of its energy on securing passage of HB 2538 which established continuing education requirements for licensed landscape contractors.  Sponsored by OLCA, the bill required the State Landscape Contractors Board to establish continuing education requirements for landscape contractors of up to ten hours per year.

Under the measure, LCB was charged with the responsibility of approving continuing education programs, the required amount of continuing education hours or units a landscape contractor, and how many hours can be credited to an approved program.  The programs must directly contribute to landscape contractor professional competency; potential issue areas include the areas of human resources, safety, water management, and environmental protection.  Approved programs may include courses at a local community college or university, industry meetings, trade shows, and online training.  Landscape contractors could not be required to take more than 10 hours of continuing education per year, and the board was authorized to adopt rules and establish grounds for waivers of continuing education requirements to be issued, capping the waiver at two years for circumstances such as military service, inactive status, or extreme hardship. 

The following session in 2009, OLCA worked closely with the Landscape Contractors Board to help secure passage of SB 147 which added maintenance of irrigation systems using compressed air to the definition of landscaping which meant that those businesses using compressed air (winterization) would need to be licensed by LCB or be a licensed plumber.  The bill also: prohibited persons otherwise exempt from licensing as a landscape contractor form representing in any manner to be a landscape contractor; changed the definition of Landscape Construction Professional and Landscape Contracting business to reflect clearly that it is “about the work” performed rather than about the person performing the work; and, established an exemption from licensure for employees of homeowners working on behalf of the owner who contracted for landscaping work on the owners property (this had been LCB policy but was now clearly stated in law).

In 2011, OLCA supported several bills that were signed into law including:

  • HB 2156 which expanded the types of activities covered by the LCB bond or letter of credit requirements to include backflow testing and low voltage lighting work. 
  • HB 2157 which was intended to provide consistent and verifiable consumer and employee protection by requiring workers compensation coverage of all landscape contractor employees.  OLCA supported HB 2157 because it would change the workers compensation law to verify that all landscape contracting businesses cover their employees with workers compensation.  

That same session, number of bills were introduced to establish task forces to study consolidation of state government boards, commissions and agencies in an effort to consolidate functions and improve efficiencies and effectiveness.  OLCA opposed those legislative efforts that would have jeopardized the semi-independent Landscape Contractors Board and its functions.

Legislation to abolish the State Landscape Contractors Board (LCB) and to transfer its regulatory role and functions to the Construction Contractors Board (CCB) was introduced in 2013.  SB 557 would have also created a licensing exemption for landscape contracting businesses generating less than $2,000 a month or $12,000 a year.  In its original form, OLCA opposed the measure but offered amendments which deleted the original provisions of the bill so that the LCB was not abolished.  Instead, if the bill had been approved, it would have established a Landscape Construction Professional Task Force which would have:

  • Reviewed the licensure examination requirements for landscape construction professionals;
  • Made recommendations to the LCB on any changes to the Board administrative rules and to the Legislature on any changes to statutes that are necessary to ensure that licensure examinations are designed to demonstrate that the applicant has the necessary knowledge and skills to exercise the responsibilities of a landscape construction professional; and
  • Made recommendations to the Legislature on whether the LCB should have its power transferred to the CCB.
  • Directed LCB to adopt an enforcement program that puts as the primary goal – compliance.  Fines would not be assessed unless the violation involves a life safety issue or has been repeated several times. 
  • Changed the notification period for contractor change of addresses from 10 to 30 days which would allow a more reasonable reporting period.
  • Established a minimum threshold of $500 for a landscaping project under which a written contract would not be required. 

While SB 557 died, the task force concept outlined above became the topic of a more informal work group appointed by the Senate Business and Transportation Committee.  The Work Group, which included four OLCA representatives, reviewed LCB’s licensure program, examination requirements for landscape construction professionals, continuing education and enforcement program.  A number of issues that have been confronting landscape contractors the past several years were discussed.  The Work Group’s efforts resulted in SB 580 which passed unanimously in both chambers and improved the landscape contractor regulatory program.  Some of the specific changes included:

  • Clarified licensed landscape contracting business activities so they may plan, install, maintain or repair ornamental water features, drainage systems, irrigation systems, fences, decks, arbors, patios, landscape edging, driveways, walkways and retaining walls.
  • Eliminated the requirement for written contracts when the contract amount is less than $2,000.
  • Capped civil penalties against contractors not to exceed $2,000 and gave the licensing board broader discretion in dealing with compliance issues.
  • Allowed for a variety of procedural changes for the landscape licensing board including the process of filing complaints and stop work orders.
  • Increased the time allowed for address change notification to LCB from 10 days to 30 days.
  • Provided for increased bonding requirements of $20,000 for landscape jobs that exceed $50,000 which protects the licensed landscape contractor and consumer for a minimal cost.
  • Reduced the number of continuing education hours (CEH) required for license renewal to 16 hours of CEH over a two-year period for licensees with less than 5 years of experience as an active licensee and 8 hours every two years of CEH for active licensees with over 5 years of experience.  This replaced the requirement at that time of 20 hours every 2 years.
  • Permitted licensed landscape contractors to remove or prune trees and install outdoor artificial turf excluding sports fields.
  • Allowed LCB and CCB licensees to work together more cooperatively to better serve the consumer.
  • Increased the time allowed for address change notification to LCB from 10 days to 30 days.

That same session, legislation was approved to allow a person applying for a landscape construction professional license to satisfy the examination requirement by either passing a written examination or passing an eight-hour skills test and attending a six-hour business practices class.  Introduced by Rep. Dallas Heard (R-Roseburg), a licensed landscape contractor, HB 3304 required the Landscape Contractors Board to offer a practical skills test.  It directed the Board to establish an applicant fee to offset full cost of the practical skills test and business practices class.  The measure also required the current written examination to be translated to Spanish. 

Sometimes success in the legislative arena is not measured by bills getting passed but by bills not getting passed.  Because of OLCA’s lobbying efforts in 2017, a bill that would have significantly eroded the licensure requirements for landscape construction professionals was defeated.  HB 3337 would have created a new limited landscape construction professional license that would have allowed the licensee to perform up to $8,000 of work per job during a 12-month period with few restrictions.  Prior experience, education, completion of the examination testing (both knowledge of the business and landscape contracting laws), and the skills to satisfactorily perform the work would be waived.  Also, OLCA defeated a measure that would have eliminated continuing education requirements for landscape construction professionals.

In 2018, OLCA focused its time on ensuring that landscape contractors didn’t get thrown into HB 4144, a bill requested by Governor Kate Brown to make it easier for individuals in the construction industry to become licensed, obtain funding to start a sole proprietorship construction contracting business and ultimately to expand the industry workforce and availability of affordable housing. As passed by the Legislature, the bill waives licensing fees for certain construction contractors, plumbing contractors and electrical contractors but not landscape construction contractors.

However, the issue of eliminating the landscape contractor’s licensure program or removing the experience and examination requirements to become a licensed contractor will likely be the subject of future discussions as Oregon and other states consider streamlining occupational licensure programs.