December 23rd, 2019
Dear Fellow Radon Professionals,
As an association, we feel it is necessary to respond to a recent email sent out by MDH. Our response is below:
The Minnesota Department of Health’s (MDH) recent “Year One Review” email provides an inaccurate and misleading description of Radon Licensing Act enforcement in 2019 and falsely accuses MARP of reporting “incorrect information” about the amount of its fines. The MDH email notes that it has voluntarily forgiven fines of $500-$1,500, but omits any mention that these fines are per occurrence and the average total fine threatened may be as high as $19,000. The MDH accuses the Minnesota Association of Radon Professionals’ (MARP) newsletter of distributing “inaccurate information” about the fines imposed under the Radon Licensing Act. However, MARP’s commentary of this important topic was based on a tip from Representative Tama Theis of the Minnesota House of Representatives, who told MARP president Mike Hogenson about a case in which a small business-owner was threatened with a total of $20,000 in fines, a threat that the MDH used to bully the business-owner into spending thousands of dollars to earn “forgiveness” of fines that the business could not afford to pay.
Representative Theis recently reaffirmed the information she provided to MARP, and express her gratitude that MARP is publicizing the real harm that the MDH is causing with the unnecessary and burdensome regulations in the Radon Licensing Act.
It should come as no surprise that MARP has also learned that the Radon Licensing Act has already driven several businesses out of radon control work entirely!
MDH’s “Year One Review” also leaves a lot of major questions unanswered. MDH never says how long it plans to continue to “forgive” the fines that it imposes under the Radon Licensing Act. Many excellent radon testing and mitigation professionals are small business owners who would be devastated by the kinds of fines MDH is threatening to impose. It will also be difficult for many businesses to operate profitably in the radon mitigation industry while also jumping through the onerous and expensive regulatory hoops of the Radon Licensing Act.
MDH’s description of the fine amounts imposed also appears to be intentionally deceptive and opaque. MDH does not transparently disclose the average total fine they have been threatening to impose. Instead, the says that the fines it has threatened have ranged from $500 to $1,500. However, as revealed by the allegations of Representative Theis, in reality, MDH asserts the authority to stack fines. The “Year One Review” notes that there were “10 unique violations at each audit, with a range of 0 violations and up to 22 violations.” MDH’s statement is ambiguous and could be interpreted a few different ways, but a bit of back of the envelope math shows that fines ranging from $500-$1,500 and stacked 10-22 times yields a range of $5,000 to $33,000 which averages to $19,000. This suggests that the experience recounted by Representative Theis is not some statistical outlier – it is probably fairly typical of what participants in the radon industry should be expecting if the MDH is permitted to continue wrapping the radon control industry in the Radon Licensing Act’s job-killing red-tape and excessive fines.
It looks like it is only a matter of time before MDH stops “forgiving” its fines and begins to fill its own coffers at the expense of the hard-working small business owners who are doing their best to contend with a formalistic and burdensome Radon Licensing Act and the overbearing public-health bureaucrats at MDH who are empowered to enforce the law.
The heart of the matter is that radon mitigation is a construction activity, and should be regulated by the construction regulators of the Department of Labor and Industry (DOLI). The misdirection and obfuscation employed in the MDH’s recent “Year One Review” newsletter look like an attempt to deceive the radon industry into acquiescing to the Radon Licensing Act, but MARP will not stand-down from its unwavering and unconditional opposition to the unconstitutional and oppressive Radon Licensing Act, which should be repealed and replaced by construction building codes and DOLI enforcement.
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MARP is committed to being the voice of the mitigation contractors and testers in our industry. We cannot do it without your help. Please consider teaming up of other industry professionals and join MARP today.