Home improvement contractors in New Jersey will have to wear a state-issued identification badge on the job at all times if Gov. Chris Christie signs recently passed legislation mandating that requirement.
Prompted by fears of potential scams arising from last year's Superstorm Sandy, S.2363 requires every contractor to get and display the identification badge "on the upper left corner of his torso when the contractor is performing, or engaging, or attempting to engage in the business of selling home improvements."
The badge would include a color photograph of the contractor’s face, the contractor’s name, the contractor’s registration number, and the name of the contractor’s business, according to the amended text of the bill. A new badge would be required every six years.
New Jersey's state Assembly passed the bill May 20 on a 73-4 vote and the Senate followed on June 20 by a 39-1 vote. It now is on Christie's desk, and he has roughly 45 days to sign or vote the legislation.
The measure has powerful supporters. Senate president Steve Sweeney, a Democrat from southern New Jersey, said in a March 18 statement that he was motivated in part by Superstorm Sandy.
“As we continue to recover from the aftermath of Sandy, New Jerseyans must be on the look out for those who would look to take advantage of the situation for their own personal benefit,” Sweeney said then. “By requiring a picture I.D., we are adding another layer of protection for storm victims against fraud.”
Sweeney noted that the state Division of Consumer Affairs had received 1,200 new applications to be registered as contractors in the days after Sandy, and many of the applicants were from out of state.
"In the aftermath of Sandy, New Jersey residents are even more vulnerable to unscrupulous, fly-by-night contractors who take advantage of residents in need of immediate home repairs," he said.
New Jersey isn't the only state worried about Sandy-related scams. Outside New York City, officials have arrested 61 home improvement contractors on charges of operating without a license, the Associated Press reported.
—Craig Webb is editor-in-chief of REMODELING. Follow him on Twitter at @craiglwebb