On March 28, the Georgia Assembly passed House Resolution 473, establishing the House Study Committee on Safety and Consumer Protection in the Tree Care Industry. The committee’s purpose is to assess and address the significant safety risks and consumer protection issues currently impacting the tree care industry in Georgia. This includes reviewing the absence of licensing, registration, and insurance requirements that might otherwise mitigate such risks.

Overview of the Resolution

The resolution identifies a lack of specific licensing, registration, and regulatory standards for tree care providers in Georgia. It points out that the industry operates without mandated training, equipment use standards, or insurance requirements, which contributes to safety risks. Additionally, the resolution cites consumer protection issues, highlighted by a higher rate of unresolved complaints in tree care services compared to other industries. Notably, a 2019 survey by the Georgia Arborist Association indicated broad support among its members for licensure requirements, reflecting a significant consensus within the industry on the need for regulatory oversight. Given the hazardous nature of tree care work and low consumer satisfaction rates, the study committee will examine the need to develop potential legislation or take other action to protect the health and safety of workers in the industry and support consumer protection.

February 9th Hearing: Balancing Safety and Accessibility

During a hearing on February 9, Representative Victor Anderson (R-Cornelia) presented the resolution to the Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee, emphasizing the dangerous nature of the tree care profession. He highlighted that it is one of the most hazardous careers in both America and the world, noting that the resolution intends to support tree care professionals in making their industry safer. Representative Clay Pirkle (R-Ashburn), who chairs the Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure, expressed concerns about the potential for the resolution to create unnecessary barriers for entry and unintended consequences that might affect community helpers, such as neighbors assisting each other after a storm without facing insurance or licensing violations. He emphasized the importance of not adding more layers of government that could hinder good Samaritans from offering help. In response, Representative Anderson reassured the committee that the resolution aims to consider all viewpoints and ensure that any proposed measures would not impede community assistance efforts. The study committee’s goal is to find a balanced resolution that enhances safety without unnecessary regulatory burdens.

Formation of the Committee 

The Speaker of the House will appoint five members of the House of Representatives to the study committee and designate a chairperson to lead it. The committee will undertake a study of the safety risks, consumer protection issues, and any related conditions, needs, or problems currently affecting the tree care industry in Georgia. It will recommend any action or legislation deemed necessary or appropriate. The chairperson will call the committee’s meetings, which will occur at times and locations necessary to effectively perform its duties and accomplish its objectives. The committee must compile a report of its findings and recommendations. If the committee suggests specific legislative proposals, the chairperson must file this report with the Clerk of the House of Representatives before the committee’s abolishment on December 1, 2024, following approval by a majority vote of a quorum of the committee members. In the absence of an approved report, the chairperson may file a copy of the meeting minutes instead.

What’s Next

As the House Study Committee on Safety and Consumer Protection in the Tree Care Industry takes shape, we anticipate that the Speaker of the House will soon appoint the five members who will serve on this committee, along with designating a chairperson. Following these appointments, we expect announcements regarding the scheduling of initial meetings. These meetings will set the stage for the committee’s work.

The Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA) strives to monitor these developments closely. We understand the importance of this committee’s work and its potential impact on our industry. TCIA will provide updates to our members as soon as more information becomes available, ensuring that all stakeholders are well-informed and prepared to engage with the committee’s activities as appropriate.

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