Efforts to require licensing for Garden State HVAC contractors was the hot topic at the annual meeting of the Air Conditioning Contractors of America’s New Jersey chapter.

The March 20 event at the Grounds for Sculpture park and museum in Hamilton Township, N.J., attracted more than 350 members who wanted to hear about the latest state issues affecting their livelihoods. The association brought state Democratic Assemblyman Vince Prieto, who is sponsoring a bill to modify the new state regulations surrounding HVAC licensing.

Prieto gave the group a brief history of the bill and expressed willingness to work with ACCA members to make the proposal acceptable to them.

The ACCA also brought in Joseph Fiordaliso, a commissioner with the state public utilities board. Fiordaliso told members that incentives for parts of the state affected by Hurricane Sandy would not be cut, and added that cooperative advertising program funds were available.

ACCA-NJ member Fred Hutchinson, CEO of Hutchinson Plumbing Heating Cooling in Cherry Hill, N.J., said he was happy with the program and attendance.

“We were excited about the turnout we had for the meeting, because we had updates on many big issues that impact New Jersey contractors’ business practices,” Hutchinson said. “Since we started the state chapter, we have had great success in influencing the state government to ensure that laws that are detrimental to our companies are not being passed without contractors having a say.”

Paul Stalknecht, national president and CEO of ACCA, also attended the meeting. He gave members updates on the association’s new accreditation programs and the regional HVAC standards lawsuit still in federal court.

Stalknecht said New Jersey’s chapter is impressive.

“It is great that so many New Jersey contractors were willing to take the time to come together to learn about legislation and programs that affect how they do their jobs on a daily basis,” he said.