In a story that has put the importance of good governance front and center, manufactured home residents in Ohio, along with the Ohio Manufactured Homes Association (OMHA) urged state senators to keep the Ohio Manufactured Homes Commission (OMHC) active.
As Daily Business News readers are already aware, the Ohio House of Representatives passed Substitute HB 49, the “State of Ohio budget bill” on May 2nd, restoring the Ohio Manufactured Homes Commission (OMHC), consistent with present law. That bill is now under review in the state senate.
The saga began when the Ohio Fire Chief’s Association sent a letter to lawmakers at the end of March supporting a provision in the state budget to kill the commission. The Daily Business News covered the response from the commission in a story linked here.
Commentary from the association, and the state fire marshal, was inflammatory.
“30 people died in 1,208 manufactured home fires between 2012 and 2016,” said the letter from the Association.
“Ohioans are 4.2 times more likely to die in a manufactured home that caught fire than a one- or two-family home,” said state Fire Marshal Larry Flowers, who cited a four-year study of state data showing there are more fatal fires in manufactured homes in Ohio than in any other surrounding state.
This commentary was followed up with a move from Governor John Kasich’s office, as the Governor’s Executive Budget legislation included a provision seeking to eliminate the OMHC and move its duties into the Department of Commerce.
And that spurred serious action.
“Burying the regulation of the manufactured homes program in a bureaucracy is ill advised,” said Evan Atkinson, the OMHC Vice-Chairman, to members of the Senate Finance Subcommittee on General Government and Agency Review.
“The Administration has exhibited a lack of understanding regarding the comprehensive nature of manufactured homes regulation throughout these legislative deliberations.”
James Demitrus, member of the residents’ association and former resident appointee to the OMHC, also shared his feelings on the importance of the commission during the hearing.
“The Commission today inspects 100 percent of home installations. The Commission’s requirement that every home be inspected was a revolution in the industry,” said Demitrus.
“The Commission was the residents’ best hope of ensuring that they can live in communities that are safe and well-maintained.”
Frank Pojman, President of the Association of Manufactured Home Residents in Ohio, also testified at the hearing, providing a unique perspective.
Pojman once opposed creating the Commission, but now supports keeping it focused on its safety and inspection mission, separate from the Administration’s control.
“Then I did not understand how it could help the residents of Ohio. But after all these years of experience with the Commission we obtain quick and reliable service for our residents, especially involving home safety and park [sic] living,” said Pojman.
“Governor Kasich’s blanket negative statements about the quality and safety of manufactured homes are demeaning and disrespectful, and I will remind the Senate Committee that nearly a million Ohio residents live in a manufactured home,” said Pojman.
“I think the Governor has been misled by the state agencies that want to assume the Commission’s duties.”
In an exclusive discussion with MHProNews, OMHA Executive Tim Williams explained why the battle taking place in Ohio is important for the industry as a whole.
“When our homes and their superior building and fire safety are misrepresented it hurts our businesses and residents. We must always stand up for the truth about the affordability and superior fire safety of manufactured homes for our customers and industry,” said Williams.
“The truth always matters. We must never let others define us with false representations. We provide the most affordable, quality and safest homes of any sort today. The world needs to know that. Our opponents can have their opinions but they are never entitled to their own set of facts.”
For more on the battle in Ohio, click here. ##
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Submitted by RC Williams to the Daily Business News for MHProNews.
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