Advocacy is a vital part of a well-functioning democracy. Sharing our expertise about our industry helps public officials make informed decisions about rules and regulations that directly impact your business.
While COVID-19 is currently impacting every facet of life – including the numerous state legislatures that have either suspended or prematurely adjourned their 2020 sessions due to the outbreak – the VSI team will keep its commitment to continuing the conversation with government staff and planning commissions to better educate them on why vinyl siding bans are unjustified and hurt businesses and individuals.
The tactics underlying the VSI’s legislative initiatives, as they stand today, result from many years of local government efforts to mandate against vinyl siding. Initially, VSI handled these issues locally, at the town and city level. Today, we take a top down approach that focuses on statewide legislation. We do this by forming likeminded coalitions and introducing bills that protect our members’ products from bans. As you may know, a bill is a draft of a proposed law presented to a government body. It is the first step in passing legislation. When it comes to VSI’s advocacy efforts, we introduce a bill n partnership with a coalition in that particular state. For our members’ purposes, the two types of bills we introduce are: 1) Broader, aesthetic bills that cover more than just vinyl siding; and, 2) more narrow bills that focus on protecting building materials from prohibition. Both approaches essentially give builders and other individuals the ability to safely build houses with their preferred aesthetic styles.
These kinds of bills are often referred to as preemption bills as they seek to preempt, or deter, jurisdictions from doing something specific. In our case, our bills seek to stop jurisdictions from warrantlessly banning our members’ products.Preemption bills are often difficult to pass because most of the states with these types of bans implement a specific kind of government system referred to as “Home Rule.” The theory behind Home Rule is that local government (mayors and councils) are in the best position to determine what a locality needs or wants.
The issue is that local governments have taken this concept and stretched it beyond reason and practicality. Local governments in these states want to circumvent their building code and dictate to individuals what color their house must be, the size of their living room, the direction their garage faces and more under the guise of “Zoning.”
The Home Rule was never meant to be implemented this way.
In 2015, thanks to VSI’s efforts, the North Carolina General Assembly signed into law SB 25, a law that protects the rights of builders and homeowners to make the aesthetic choices they see fit. It prohibits local governments from enacting ordinances that control design and aesthetics of one- and two-family dwellings (including what type of siding can be used). This bill was the launching point for our current approach and successes.
As an industry, we must continue to have a seat at the table in order to advocate for our members’ interests. It’s far more effective to proactively reach out to educate our audiences with the correct information about our industry’s products, so issues don’t arise in the first place. Once a government entity has already unfairly put a restriction on vinyl siding use, the process can be challenging.
Since the 2015 North Carolina win, VSI has worked to make a compelling case for vinyl siding across the U.S. – similar bills have been passed to date in Texas and Arkansas. Moreover, we are actively working on advocating for design without limits in Indiana, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Georgia and Minnesota.
So why should you care? Collaborative advocacy efforts:
VSI’s advocacy initiative can provide you with resources and support to make a compelling case for vinyl siding and help address any potential roadblocks in your state.
We’re here to support you in advocating for design without limits when it comes to siding and aesthetics of homes. To learn more and see how we can advance your efforts, contact VSI’s Alex Fernandez at firstname.lastname@example.org.