Texas Register Preamble
The Texas State Board of Plumbing Examiners (Board) proposes amendments to the existing rules at 22 Texas Administrative Code (TAC), Chapter 365, §§365.1, 365.5, 365.7, 365.8, 365.14, 365.15 and 365.19 - 365.24 and new 365.25, concerning licensing and registration. These proposed changes are referred to as "proposed rules."
EXPLANATION OF AND JUSTIFICATION FOR THE RULES
The proposed rules implement changes to Texas Occupations Code, Chapter 1301 (Plumbing License Law or PLL) as amended by House Bill 636 (HB 636), 87th Texas Legislature, Regular Session, 2021, Board efforts to improve regulation of the industry by simplifying the rules as part of its four-year rule review, and to comply with Chapter 55 of the Texas Occupations Code.
Implementation of HB 636
HB 636 amended the Plumbing License Law. Statutory changes eliminated the requirement that a responsible master plumber (RMP) complete an approved training program regarding the laws and rules applicable to the operation of a plumbing business in Texas. HB 636 added a qualification path for licensure as a Tradesman-Limited Plumber upon successful examination and completion of a career and technology education program offered by a high school or institution of higher education approved by the State Board of Education and the Board. Instructors for the new career and technology program are required to be licensed by the Board as a master plumber, journeyman plumber, or plumbing inspector. Instructors providing meaningful instruction are allowed to complete hours of continuing professional education every three years under Section 1301.404 as amended by HB 636. HB 636 further amended Section 1301.404 to vest the authority for the administrative approval of continuing professional education programs and instructors in the Executive Director rather than the Board. HB 636 amended Section 1301.304 to move the responsibility to investigate violations of the PLL or rules from the Enforcement Committee to the Board, or a Board-designated employee. HB 636 removed the ability of field representatives to issue citations, and created a non-renewable, 30-day temporary license for applicants meeting the qualifications for such licensure established in rule. The proposed rules facilitate the statutory changes made by HB 636.
Rule Review Changes
The Board, under it general rule-making authority in Section 1301.251 of Texas Occupations Code and part of its four-year rule review of the existing rules at 22 Texas Administrative Code (TAC) Chapter 365, initiated a rule simplification initiative to make the rules easier to use and understand by eliminating unnecessary language, adding clarifying language, and restructuring regulations to make the rules more efficient. Unnecessary internal references to rule and statute have been eliminated to keep the rules current regardless of changes to statute and rule.
Implementation of Chapter 55 of the Texas Occupations Code
Chapter 55 of the Texas Occupations Code requires state agencies to adopt certain rules relating to licensing military service members, military veterans, and military spouses. The proposed rule at §365.22 amends the current rule, which addresses only military spouses, to include military service members, military veterans, and military spouses.
SECTION BY SECTION SUMMARY
Section 365.1. The proposed rule makes non-substantive changes to the current rule to eliminate unnecessary language and references to simplify the rule.
Section 365.5. The proposed rule makes non-substantive changes to the current rule to simply rewords and restructures the requirements for renewal in an effort to make it easier to read.
Section 365.7. The proposed rule makes non-substantive changes to the current rule to eliminate an unnecessary reference.
Section 365.8. The proposed rule consolidates Subsection (d) into (a) of the current rule to show a licensee or registrant must inform the Board of a change of physical address and legal name change to make the rule more efficient and easier to read. It also makes a new requirement that the Board be notified of a change in email address.
Section 365.14. The proposed rule changes the rule heading to "Continuing Professional Education and Training Requirements." It further adds "as applicable" to subsection (c) to clarify that continuing education and training can be taken in person, via correspondence, or virtually.
Section 365.15. The proposed rule eliminates references to a "publisher" of course material. The Board earlier repealed regulation of publishers. HB 636 moved the administrative approval of continuing education from the Board to the Executive Director. Further language is eliminated to streamline the rule and clarify that the Executive Director will approve both continuing professional education and training courses. Lastly, a clarification in (c) shows that course material is approved for two years from their stated effective date, or the date they are approved, whichever is later.
Section 365.19. The proposed rule eliminates references to Board approval of courses or training. Under HB 636, the Executive Director facilitates the administrative approval of courses and instructors. Furthermore, the proposed rule eliminates overly proscriptive rules regarding class format, delivery, and class size as was recommended by the Sunset Commission. The proposed rule requires that courses and training segments are required to be at least one hour in length. The proposed rule gives notice that providers may incorporate materials or presentations by manufacturing vendors, but only educational and informative portions will be given credit. The proposed rule requires that an education provider offer to refund or reschedule the course should the original course be cancelled. The rule expands the time frame a provider will provide a certificate of completion to the student from forty-eight (48) hours to within three (3) business days after successful course completion.
Section 365.20. The proposed rule sets the minimum qualifications for instructors of continuing education courses and training programs, eliminates overly proscriptive language as recommended by the Sunset Commission, and facilitates the standards under which the Executive Director will approve instructors as mandated by HB 636. It requires an instructor must be a journeyman, master, or plumbing inspector in good standing. An instructor teaching an endorsement course must hold that endorsement. Instructors must teach approved material and report course completion within three (3) business days after the course is complete. The requirement that an instructor complete the Course Instructor Certification Workshop is eliminated.
Section 365.21. The current rule provides that continuing education for a medial gas piping endorsement must have two hours of CPE. The rule proposal amends the rule to include that the successful completion of a national certification in medical gas may also satisfy the continuing education requirement for that endorsement. Further changes eliminate the requirement for a bound, physical copy of NFPA 99, as the NFPA is available and used digitally. Further language is eliminated to remove unnecessary language and references, including (c)(3) which prohibited a course provider from marking up the price of material purchased from the NFPA.
Section 365.22. Chapter 55 of the Texas Occupations Code requires state agencies to adopt certain rules relating to licensing military service members, military veterans and military spouses. The current rule addresses only military spouses; the proposed rule expands the opportunity for licensure to military service members, military veterans, and military spouses.
Section 365.23. Section 1301.406 of the PLL allows for the transfer of a license held for 35 consecutive years. The current rule at 365.23(a) is inconsistent with statute; therefore, the proposed rule eliminates the provision inconsistent with statute. The remaining changes simply eliminate unnecessary language and references to improve readability.
Section 365.24. The proposed rule allows instructors who teach the alternative option for becoming a Tradesman-Limited Plumber at a high school or institute of higher education the ability to renew their license by completing six hours of continuing education at least every three years, if they provide at least 18 hours of instruction annually. This provision facilitates the requirement in HB 636 which amended 1301.407(g).
Section 365.25. The proposed rule supports the temporary, non-renewable, 30-day licenses created by HB 636. This rule shows that this license may be granted in conditions of disaster as declared by the Governor or determined by the Executive Director.
FISCAL IMPACT ON STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT
Lisa G. Hill, Executive Director for the Board (Executive Director), has determined that for the first five-year period the proposed rules are in effect, there are no foreseeable increases or reductions in costs to the state or local governments as a result of enforcing or administering the rules. The Executive Director has further determined that for the first five-year period the proposed rules are in effect, there will be no foreseeable losses or increases in revenue for the state or local governments as a result of enforcing or administering the rules.
The Executive Director has determined that for each of the first five years the proposed rules are in effect, the public benefit anticipated as a result of enforcing or administering the proposed rules will be to have fewer regulatory barriers to licensure and greater opportunity to expand the population of licensed plumbers. Regulatory efficiency is enhanced by supporting approval of continuing professional education courses and instructors by the Executive Director. Enhanced regulatory efficiency is also realized by removing a course requirement on responsible master plumbers.
PROBABLE ECONOMIC COSTS TO PERSONS REQUIRED TO COMPLY WITH THE RULE
The executive director has determined that for the first five years the proposed rules are in effect, there are no substantial economic costs anticipated to persons required to comply with the proposed rules.
ONE-FOR-ONE REQUIREMENT FOR RULES WITH A FISCAL IMPACT
Given that the proposed rules do not have a fiscal note which imposes a cost on regulated persons, including another state agency, a special district, or local government, proposal and adoption of the rules is not subject to the requirements of Government Code §2001.0045.
GOVERNMENT GROWTH IMPACT STATEMENT
For each of the first five years the proposed rules are in effect, the Board has determined the following: (1) the proposed rules do not create or eliminate a government program; (2) implementation of the proposed rules do not require the creation of new employee positions or the elimination of existing employee positions; (3) implementation of the proposed rules do not require an increase or decrease in future legislative appropriations to the agency; (4) the proposed rules do not require an increase or decrease in fees paid to the agency; (5) the proposed rules do not create a new regulation; (6) the proposed rules do not expand, limit, or repeal an existing regulation; (7) the proposed rules do not increase or decrease the number of individuals subject to the rules' applicability; and (8) the proposed rules do not positively or adversely affect this state's economy.
LOCAL EMPLOYMENT IMPACT STATEMENT
No local economies are substantially affected by the proposed rules. As a result, preparation of a local employment impact statement pursuant to Government Code §2001.022 is not required.
FISCAL IMPACT ON SMALL AND MICRO-BUSINESS AND RURAL COMMUNITIES
The proposed rules will not have an adverse effect on small or micro-businesses or rural communities because there are no substantial economic costs anticipated to persons required to comply with the proposed rules. As a result, preparation of an economic impact statement and a regulatory flexibility analysis, as provided by Government Code §2006.002, are not required.
TAKINGS IMPACT ASSESSMENT
There are no private real property interests affected by the proposed rules. As a result, preparation of a takings impact assessment, as provided by Government Code §2007.043, is not required.
Written comments regarding the amended rule may be submitted by mail to Patricia Latombe at P.O. Box 4200, Austin, Texas 78765-4200, or by email to email@example.com with the subject line "Rule Amendments." All comments must be received within 30 days of publication of this proposal.
This proposal is made under the authority of Texas Occupations Code Chapter 1301 as amended by HB 636 during the 87th Legislative Session. Section 1301.251(2) of the Texas Occupations Code authorizes the Texas State Board of Plumbing Examiners to adopt rules as necessary to implement the Chapter. The proposal is also proposed under the authority of Chapter 55 of the Texas Occupations Code which requires state agencies to adopt certain rules relating to licensing military service members, military veterans, and military spouses.
No other statutes, articles, or codes are affected by the proposed rules.
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