In September, Texas plumbers will go unlicensed and unregulated

Austin

AUSTIN (KXAN) — In September, the Texas State Board of Plumbing Examiners will be abolished.

This comes after state lawmakers left town without continuing the board through what’s known as the “sunset process,” an every-decade review and reform process of state agencies. 

According to a statement from the board Wednesday: “All requirements of the plumbing license law will cease to apply” in September as well. 

A bill that would have transferred the board to the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (Senate Bill 621) failed to pass. 

Paul Olsen is a plumbing estimator for ABC Home & Commercial Services. He says his worry about abolishing the board of plumbing examiners is not about fixing a leak or clearing a drain.

“Those kinds of things most homeowners are capable of doing. It’s once we get beyond,” Olsen says is when the trouble can happen.

Plumbers train for years to learn how to connect any piping past your meter.  That includes natural gas lines to water heaters, stoves, and fireplaces.

KXAN covered this explosion in Hyde Park in February 2009, gas work triggered by an unlicensed plumber according to investigators at the time. 

Then, there’s medical gas, the oxygen and nitrogen lines at your hospital, doctor, dentist, even your vet.

According to Olsen, master plumber training takes up to nine years. 

“Those types of things are specially regulated because they’re at the highest levels of danger for the general public if it’s not done correctly,” said Olsen.

He says at the very least, you want a plumber who knows how not to cross-connect so clean water comes into your bathroom and kitchen, not sewage. 

In the last days of the 2019 legislative session, lawmakers debated whether to keep the plumbing board as it is or roll it into the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation. Agreements on SB 621 were voted down by the Texas House on May 26th. The same night, a motion to reconsider the action also failed. 

Governor Abbott could call a special session to continue the board but earlier this week he indicated he would not do so via Twitter.

So come September, when the licensing board expires anyone can call themselves a plumber and legally do work. That puts the burden on the consumer to check out a plumber’s experience before hiring one. There are currently 58-thousand licensed plumbers in the state.

Beginning on September 1, the state will not issue any new plumbing licenses or renew old one. After that, the state board confirms they will no longer accept applications to take the Tradesman Plumber-Limited, Journeyman Plumber, Master Plumber, and Plumbing Inspector exams. Plumbers who already are registered for these exams can ask for a refund.  

The state has been in a similar situation before. 

In 2017, the legislature failed to renew several state agencies including the Texas Medical Board; making sure Texas doctors are licensed and have the authority to write prescriptions. 

The governor called a 30-day special session to force lawmakers to pass a bill to prevent the board from shutting down, the governor added 19 other priorities for lawmakers to tackle. 

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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