Texas Governor Revives State’s Plumber Licensing Board

After the Legislature put an end to the Texas State Board of Plumbing Examiners in May, the governor ensured its existence until 2021

Texas Governor Revives State’s Plumber Licensing Board

A planned rally on June 14 to protest the abolishment of the state plumber licensing board turned into somewhat of a celebration after the governor signed an executive order reviving the board the day before. (Photo by J-L Plumbing Company)

An executive order from Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has saved the state’s plumber licensing board.

The Legislature’s most recent session ended on May 27 with lawmakers rejecting bills that would’ve extended the life of the Texas State Board of Plumbing Examiners, the agency responsible for licensing plumbers and enforcing the state plumbing code. The board was up for the sunset review process, which is when lawmakers periodically assess how efficiently state entities are operating and whether their existence should continue.

There were proposals for the board to move under the oversight of the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation, a larger agency that oversees more than two-dozen other professions, in hopes that it would speed up the licensing process. The worry by some is that the board is currently not running efficiently enough at a time when there is a shortage of plumbers and still a lot of work to do to fully recover from Hurricane Harvey.

But lawmakers ultimately couldn’t come to any agreement or pass any bills, so the regular session concluded with the state plumbing code set to expire later this year and the plumber licensing board set to wrap up operations by September 2020. In the aftermath, many called on Abbott to call a special session and bring lawmakers back to the state capitol to remedy the situation. Instead the governor invoked his emergency powers under the Texas Disaster Act of 1975.

The executive order ensures that the board won’t be abolished until “disaster needs subside” or until the next legislative session — scheduled for 2021 — occurs and addresses the issue.

“We’re very excited to continue to assist the citizens of the state of Texas and provide good, quality plumbers,” Lisa Hill, executive director of the Texas State Board of Plumbing Examiners, told the Texas Tribune.

Plumbers and their supporters held a rally June 14 at the state capitol. (Photo by M2 Plumbing & Drains)
Plumbers and their supporters held a rally June 14 at the state capitol. (Photo by M2 Plumbing & Drains)

Prior to Abbott’s order on June 13, plumbers had planned a rally at the state capitol to protest the Legislature’s abolishment of the licensing board. The rally still occurred the day after the executive order with thousands of plumbers and supporters showing up, using it as an opportunity to celebrate the governor’s order but also acknowledging that it wasn’t a permanent solution. The board moving under the oversight of the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation had its opponents, and that is an issue that could come up again when the Legislature meets in 2021.

 “We applaud Gov. Abbott’s leadership in recognizing the seriousness of this situation,” Alicia Dover, executive director of the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association of Texas, said in a released statement. “We are committed to working with Gov. Abbott and legislators to ensure that uniform plumbing standards and enforcement remains in place. We look forward to working with our state leaders during the interim to address important industry issues that will be discussed as part of the sunset process.”

 Source: The Texas Tribune



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