Discussion Forum Topic:

We Have a Problem; Someone Should Call the Government!
Original Comment:
On any given day in any given week, MHBA may be contacted by a member (sometimes a non-member) with an issue they are having from a government agency. In the past, we have written letters to local mayors, made visits to state lawmakers, and had talks with federal agencies.

I tried to find out exactly how many local, state and federal agencies there are in the U.S. and that task alone is daunting. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that there are a little over 89,000 local agencies in the country, an average of about 1,780 per state.

There are also 50 states plus the District of Columbia, and in each state a legislative, judicial, and executive branch. Under that executive branch, its hard to know exactly how many total state agencies exist. Texas, for example has about 150. At an average of 100 /state, we can add 5,000 to the total agency list.

Now, you think it would be easy to know exactly how many federal agencies exist. It is not. Multiple sources list the number from a low of 78 to a high of 400 agencies. The fact that there is no definitive number says quite a lot!

For the sake of this discussion, I’m going to take the liberty of rounding off the total number of local, state, and federal government entities at 100,000. MHBA has just over 100 dues paying members, so this will be easy. We are going to assign each of you 1,000 agencies to track and monitor to make sure no polices are passed that have a negative impact on our industry.

Of course, no one could do that. MHBA does try to narrow that list and monitor those agencies that are MOST LIKELY to impact our industry. Thirty-five states have a modular or industrialized building program that write and enforce the rules on our industry. That’s our sweet spot. We can also address legislation or legal actions that are directly targeting our industry, as those don’t happen with great regularity. We are currently engaged in direct advocacy efforts in New York, Connecticut, and Michigan. We are also always engaged in relationship-building and “soft” advocacy efforts in a dozen or so other states, including a call with officials from Massachusetts in a few weeks.

What we cannot do is allocate non-existent resources to fight policies and regulations that impact the entire business community. We are not likely to have any influence on changing the federal tax code that impacts everyone. Or environmental policies that impact the whole construction industry. Or transportation laws that impact the entire trucking industry in the U.S. But on that last one, we tried anyway:

About a month ago, MHBA was contacted and asked what we planned to do about the new federal transportation regulations pertaining to required use of electronic logging devices (ELDs) that were set to take effect. The rule, passed as part of the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21) law in June of 2012, included provisions that mandated the use of ELDs. This section of the law became effective in 2016, with a two-year window to implement. That implementation deadline was December 18, 2017.

Prior to that deadline, MHBA spoke directly officials at Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regarding a potential exemption for HUD-code manufactured housing. If such an exemption existed, we wanted it to also apply to modular home shipments. The FMCSA replied - “I don’t have good news for you. There is no exemption for manufactured housing nor any other industry. The only exceptions are those cited on the agency homepage,” listed here:

-Drivers who use paper logs no more than 8 days during any 30-day period.

-Driveaway-towaway drivers (were the vehicle driven is the commodity) or the vehicle being transported is a motor home or a recreation vehicle trailer (at least one set of wheels of the vehicle being transported must be on the surface while being transported)

-Drivers of vehicles manufactured before model year 2000.

Many in our industry are now facing significant shipping increases as a result of these new regulations and wondering why MHBA did not stop them. More specifically, many are wondering why MHBA didn’t get the modular home industry exempt from the law. It took an act of the United States Congress and six-plus years to implement this law. And it will take an act of Congress to repeal it. That isn’t going to happen in the near future. It takes a Herculean effort just to monitor the agencies most likely to impact us. It is impossible to predict and monitor the thousands of other entities that MAY have some impact on our businesses.

Think of it this way: If every company in the modular home industry linked arms and joined forces, we could create a barrier (or perhaps a force field) around the whole industry to protect it. But when one company drops out, it stretches the others and our “force field” becomes thin in spots. When 100 companies try to create a barrier against 100,000 agencies, you can see how challenging this becomes. Conversely, every time a new company joins our forces, we all become a little stronger.

MHBA is very thankful for the support of the one hundred plus companies who have linked arms and stepped up to protect our industry. We are on the right track and we are growing. You may not always see the work we do, and those attacks may come in areas that don’t directly impact your business. In 2018, let’s make it a goal for every member to recruit one more company to join our ranks and make the industry stronger!

-Written by Executive Director Tom Hardiman
Started on January 26, 2018 by Joy Wang
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