This case involves contractors' licensing and whether the holder of a specialty renovation license is entitled to do certain specialty renovation work as "incidental and supplemental" to that license. The Hawaii Intermediate Court of Appeal ruled in favor of the licensee, and dismissed a challenge by another specialty contractor, and held that the Contractors' License Board was within its discretion when it adopted administrative rules defining the term "incidental and supplemental."
The Hawaii Supreme Court accepted certiorari to review this question. The General Contractors Association of Hawaii filed an amicus brief supporting the CLB's interpretation of the rule, asking the Hawaii Supreme Court to affirm the judgment. From the brief's Introduction:
This case implicates much more than the scope of contractors’ licenses, and whether a contractor with a C-5 specialty renovation license entitling it in a renovation project to perform “any other work” that will not change the structure, must employ a C-22 subcontractor to replace windows. Rather, this case asks whether the Board’s definition of “incidental and supplemental” work deserves deference because it is consistent with the plain meaning of those words, and whether the Board—comprised of five general contractors, five specialty contractors, and three members of the public who have been charged with the responsibility of carrying out the mandate of the contractor licensing statutes—“possesses expertise and experience in [its] particular field.” Okada Trucking Co. v. Bd. of Water Supply, 97 Haw. 450, 458, 40 P.3d 73, 81 (2002) (“insofar as an administrative hearings officer possesses expertise and experience in his or her particular field, the appellate court ‘should not substitute its own judgment for that of the agency’ either with respect to questions of fact or mixed questions of fact and law.”).
Petitioners invite this Court to go much further than merely overturning the Hearings Officer’s conclusion that window replacement was “incidental and supplemental” to a C-5 license. It urges the Court to “substitute its own judgment for that of the agency” by rewriting the Board’s rules to define “incidental and supplemental” to mean only “minor” work.
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