Plumbers call for special session after Texas House ends need for professional licensing, regulation

Plumbers call for special session after Texas House ends need for professional licensing, regulation

(KLTV) - Plumbers in Texas will no longer require licensing from the state after lawmakers this week eliminated the need for a state plumbing code and the Texas State Board of Plumbing Examiner.

The concern for many plumbers, according to Matthew Winn, CEO of Winn’s Continuing Education, is that anyone can now call themselves a plumber and compete for work without needing to honor previous requirements, which Winn said were put into place to protect Texas consumers.

VIDEO: Rep. Matt Schaefer speaks after lawmakers flush plumbing licensing, regulation - VOD

“Well, it changes the whole world for plumbers,” said Winn. “They’ve grown up in an industry that was regulated, required specific standards, required education, required companies to have insurance; all of that changes in a situation like this.”

Winn said plumbers are writing and calling the office of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and asking him to call for a special session to readdress the decision. However, the governor indicated on Twitter on Monday that he had no plans to reconvene legislators before the next regular session in 2021.

The state plumbing code will cease to exist on Sept. 1 while the state plumbing agency will have a “wind down” period to wrap up operations by September 2020.

“By eliminating requirements to have education, to have licensing, to be able to pass exams, it means anyone can claim to be a plumber without any of that,” Winn explained. “Of course, that’s what the industry is really concerned about: plumbing is a profession. There is a body of knowledge, there is a skill that’s required.”

Winn worked with Rep. Matt Schaefer on a bill which would have encouraged plumbing education in high schools. The bill did not make it through the Texas Senate, and was attached to House Bill 1550, a “sunset safety net bill", which would have kept the state’s plumbing commission from shutting down by pushing their sunset review to the following session. However, the sunset bill died on the Texas Senate floor, and with it, the bill Winn helped Rep. Schaefer produce.

“Plumbing has a bad wrap, let’s face it: when people hear of plumbing, they often think about needing to pull up somebody’s pants,” Winn joked. “What they don’t think about it clean drinking water and effective waste disposal. That’s what plumbing is really about. that’s the foundation, the infrastructure of a modern society.

“The licensing process required background checks, criminal records, things like that, and none of that will be there, as well,” Winn pointed out.

According to Winn, many cities around Texas have local plumbing codes that build off larger codes. However, this would likely require plumbers to earn a license in each city they would look for employment.

“Right now, it’s scary for plumbers. You have people who have devoted their entire careers, in many cases you have multiple generations of plumbers,” Winn explained. “They see their role as being a health and safety issue for the citizens of Texas, and they’re understandably concerned that this does away with all of that.”

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