Rep. John Huffman: Locksmith Laws

[State Rep. John Huffman Press Release]
REPRESENTATIVE HUFFMAN CO-SPONSORS NEW LOCKSMITH OVERSIGHT LAWS

THE DALLES — Representative John E. Huffman (R-The Dalles) announced today that he is co-sponsoring legislation for the 2009 Legislative Session that will provide better oversight for the locksmith industry in Oregon. Rep. Huffman is working with State Representative Linda Flores (R-Clackamas) to draft the legislation.

“The information and tools to walk through any locked door is out there and it is getting into the wrong hands,” said Ernie Blatz, President of the Pacific Locksmith Association (PLA). “In an industry where every aspect is security – homes, auto, businesses — why wouldn’t you want tighter licensing for locksmiths?” Blatz is also the owner of Ernie’s Locks and Keys in The Dalles.

The PLA endorsed the idea of moving ahead with a new law for better oversight at their recent monthly meeting. “This is a great example of how a business group is trying to police their trade and restore some of the credibility they may have lost with customers,” said Rep. Huffman. “I am hoping we can add some protection and peace of mind for consumers.”

Blatz noted similar attempts to strengthen licensing laws have been unsuccessful, however, “in the last couple of years there has been a large group of out-of-state illegal locksmiths scamming and ripping off the public in Oregon. They use 1800 numbers that go to other states where the job is then dispatched to local people who are not licensed and who have been trained out of a hotel room. Once they size up a customer they over charge them.”

Under current law, locksmiths who work on homes, businesses or other structures need to be licensed as a contractor. The Oregon Construction Contractors Board (CCB) estimates around 72 locksmiths are presently licensed, yet there are hundreds listed in the phone book, many with false addresses. The CCB recently issued several penalties and warning letters but only 60 such enforcement actions have occurred over the last 20 years. The Oregon Department of Justice has limited investigative powers but they have recorded over 900 consumer complaints in the last two decades. Ten other states have stricter laws than Oregon.

Some potential changes that are being considered are giving locksmiths a separate specialty license similar to Washington State, requiring more training and certification or moving the licensing duties to another agency.

This press release and an archive of previous press releases issued by Rep. Huffman’s office are available on the web at: www.leg.state.or.us/huffman.

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