Texas Register Preamble

The Texas State Board of Plumbing Examiners proposes amendments to §§365.1, 365.4-365.14 and the repeal of §365.2, concerning Licensing . During the 77th Legislature House Bills 217 and 1505 were signed into law. As a result of these two House Bills, the Plumbing License Law is amended as follows.

House Bill (HB) 217 amends the Plumbing License Law to modify the plumbing codes that the Texas State Board of Plumbing Examiners is required to adopt and authorizes the board by rule to adopt later editions of the adopted plumbing codes. The Southern Standard Plumbing Code and the National Standard Plumbing Code were eliminated from the codes adopted by the Board. The Uniform Plumbing Code was maintained and the International Plumbing Code was added, resulting in two Plumbing Codes to be adopted by the board. All plumbing installed in a political subdivision, in compliance with an adopted state approved code, must be inspected by a licensed Plumbing Inspector. The bill provides that plumbing installed in an area not otherwise subject to regulation under the Plumbing License Law must be installed in accordance with a board adopted plumbing code. The bill authorizes municipalities or owners of a public water system to amend any provisions of the codes and standards to conform to local concerns that do not substantially vary with rules or laws of this state. The bill provides that plumbing installed in compliance with an adopted plumbing code must be inspected by a licensed plumbing inspector. (Section 3)

Under HB 217, the board's jurisdiction was greatly expanded by requiring that all plumbing work connected to a public water system, or performed in any city in the state be performed by a licensed plumber. This eliminated the exemption, which had been in place since 1947, requiring a plumbing license in only cities with populations of 5,000 or more inhabitants (Section 2).

Under HB 217, Licensed Plumbing Inspectors are no longer restricted to being bona fide employees of a political subdivision, but were allowed to contract with a political subdivision as long as they are paid directly by the political subdivision (Section 1 and 3).

House Bill (HB) 1505 amends the Plumbing License Law by clarifying some existing language and effectively regulating all facets of plumbing work and individuals engaged in plumbing work.

HB 1505 clarifies that medical gasses and vacuum are included in the definition of "plumbing" (Section 1).

HB 1505 establishes a new Tradesman Plumber-Limited license and four new registrations. HB 1505 mandates, by law, experience and qualification requirements for all licenses and registrations issued by the Board. The new Tradesman Plumber-Limited license authorizes individuals to engage in the construction and installation of plumbing only in one and two-family dwellings, after passing an examination administered by the Board. HB 1505 provides for registrations authorizing individuals to install residential yard water and sewer lines (Residential Utilities Installer); remove p-traps and install clean-outs to clear obstructions in sewer lines (Drain Cleaner); clear obstructions in sewer lines through existing openings only (Drain Cleaner-Restricted Registrant); and assist in the installation of plumbing work (Plumber's Apprentice). HB 1505 requires all registrants and licensees to work under the general supervision of a Master Plumber and Residential Utilities Installers, Drain Cleaners and Drain Cleaner-Restricted Registrants to maintain registrations as a Plumber's Apprentice. (Sections 1 and 5).

HB 1505 provides the board with express authority to adopt rules and take other actions as the board deems necessary to administer this law including provisions relating to the new classes of registrants and licensees (Sections 5, 9, 11, and 14).

HB 1505 authorizes the board to appoint advisory committees as it considers necessary (Section 5).

HB 1505 requires, rather than authorizes, the board to recognize, approve, and administer continuing education programs for licensees and endorsees (Section 5).

Under HB 1505, the Licensed Sanitary Engineer position on the Board was changed to a Licensed Professional Engineer. Clarification that the Master Plumber Position, Journeyman Plumber Position, and Plumbing Inspector position on the Board, must be licensees of the Board was also included (Section 5).

HB 1505 requires a person who desires to learn the trade of plumbing to register as a Plumber's Apprentice before beginning to assist a licensee at the trade of plumbing (Section 13).

HB 1505 requires that no person, whether as a tradesman plumber-limited licensee, plumber's apprentice, registrant or otherwise to engage in, work at, or conduct the business of plumbing in this state or serve as a plumbing inspector unless such a person is the holder of a valid license, endorsement, or registration (Section 16).

HB 1505 authorizes the board to monitor insurance requirements for Master Plumbers responsible for the operation of a plumbing business by requiring them to submit a certificate of insurance to the Board (Section 17).

HB 1505 requires that the installation and replacement of water heaters be inspected by a Licensed Plumbing Inspector (Section 17).

HB 1505 also requires municipal plumbing inspections to be performed by licensed plumbing inspectors and provides that if the boundaries of a municipality and a municipal utility district overlap, only the affected municipality may perform a plumbing inspection and collect a permit fee (Section 17).

HB 1505 requires the board to adopt the required rules necessary to implement this law no later than January 1, 2002 (Section 24).

The following is an outline of the sections being added, amended, deleted in Chapter 365:

Section 365.1, regarding license and registration categories; description; scope of work permitted, (4)-(10).

Registration is being added to the section title. Independent contractor is replacing agent in paragraph (4). Also, in new subparagraphs (E) and (F) the definition of plumbing inspector in more defined. The section is also adding new definitions to include: Tradesman Plumber-Limited Licensee; Residential Utilities Installer; Drain Cleaner; Drain Cleaner-Restricted Registrant; and Plumber's Apprentice.

Section 365.2 regarding apprentice registration is being repealed. The language in this rule has been amended and moved into other sections.

Section 365.4, regarding issuance, (a)-(c).

Subsection (a) is being amended to include registration. Also, a new subsection (c) is being added to include licenses, endorsements and registrations.

Section 365.5, regarding renewals, (a)-(g).

This section is being amended to add: "registrant", "registration" to subsections (a)-(c). Also, Tradesman Plumber-Limited Licensee is being added to the individuals wishing to renew a license. Professional and CPE is being added to the applicable course title.

Section 365.6, regarding expirations (a)-(e).

This section is being amended similar to 365.5 to include registration, professional, and endorsement to the existing text.

Section 365.7, regarding duplicate license.

Registration is now included when referencing replacement documents issued by the board.

Section 365.8, regarding change of name or address, (a)-(b).

Registrant and Registration are being added to subsection (a). Subsection (b) is being amended to replace agency with contract.

Section 365.9, regarding reprimand, suspension, revocation, (a)-(c).

The section is being amended to replace old statutory language with the current Government Code, Section 2001. Registrant and Registration are also being added to this section.

Sections 365.10, 365.11, and 365.12 are all being amended to update legal cites to correspond with recent legislation.

Section 365.13, regarding licensing of guaranteed student loan defaulters, (a)-(e).

Registration and registrant are being added throughout this section.

Section 365.14, regarding continuing professional education programs, (a) and (c).

Tradesman Plumber-Restricted Licensee is being added to subsections (a) and (c).

Also, as a result of HB 217 and HB 1505, the Texas State Board of Plumbing Examiners proposes amendments to Chapters 361, 363, and 367 elsewhere in this issue of the Texas Register.

Robert L. Maxwell, Administrator of the Texas State Board of Plumbing Examiners, has determined that for the first five-year period the rules are in effect the fiscal impact on state and local government as well as small businesses and persons required to comply with these rules as a result of HB 1505 and HB 217is as follows:

The Board is required to adopt rules necessary for the implementation of HB 1505, no later than January 1, 2002;

The Board is required to develop and administer the one new examination required for the new license category and implement a registration process for the Plumber's Apprentice and the other three new mandatory registrations;

The Board is required to modify its computer programs to automate the examination and renewal process for the new categories, and make necessary changes to other administrative functions;

The addition of the International Plumbing Code, as a code to be adopted by the Board, will require the Board to review and make changes, as necessary, to its examinations to ensure that the answers to examination questions may be found in both the Uniform Plumbing Code and the International Plumbing Code;

Currently the Board is not required to register apprentices. They are issued a one-time apprentice card, but are not required to renew or update information. Therefore, the Board is not able to determine exactly how many apprentices are currently working in the plumbing industry. However, the Board estimates that there are at least two apprentices working with each journeyman. As of February 20, 2001, there were 12,070 licensed journeymen, or an estimated 24,140 apprentices. Therefore, it is estimated that the implementation of HB 1505 will double the size of the Board's current license database. One additional Administrative Technician III will be requested to support the increase in activity in the licensing department at a cost of $29,232 per year. Additionally, license cards at an approximate cost of $0.30 each for 24,000 additional licensees and registrants will cost approximately $7,200. One additional Administrative Technician III will be requested to support the processing of new applications for examination and registration at a cost of $29,232 per year. Material cost for the examination center would increase by approximately $10,000 per year.

One-time costs will be the changes to the Board's licensing system by outside programmers for an estimated approximate cost of $21,650. Updates will be required to the Board's web site at an approximate cost of $1,000. Other one-time costs will be for computers, desks, and telephones for these 2 additional employees, at a cost of $7,500.

The Board will have an ongoing cost for Northrop Grumman, who supports the Board's regulatory computer, based on the number of licensees in the system. The cost is currently $0.0764 per month per licensee. Because of the additional estimated number of licensees and registrants that would be added to our system, the additional amount to be charged by Northrop Grumman would be $1,834 per month, or $22,008 per fiscal year.

The Board anticipates there will also be an increase in the number of hearings due to denials (usually due to criminal history issues) of unqualified applicants for registration as Plumber's Apprentice. Since, under current law, there is no requirement for Plumber's Apprentices to register with the Board, denied applicants for registration as a Plumber's Apprentice are not entitled to a hearing. However, under the new legislation, denied applicants will have a right to a hearing on any denial. This would increase the estimated number of cases to be heard by the State Office of Administrative Hearings (SOAH). SOAH costs for an estimated five additional hearings per year for applicants who are denied would cost approximately $6,250 to the State.

The Board's jurisdiction regarding job site monitoring will be increased by the elimination of the current exemption that allows unlicensed plumbers to perform plumbing work in areas outside of cities of 5,000 or more. The Board will perform job site monitoring in those areas previously exempted, to ensure that plumbing work is performed by licensed plumbers. Additionally, there will be an increase in the number of plumbers examined and licensed by the Board. However, since these unlicensed plumbers are not currently regulated or registered by the Board, the Board has no accurate method for determining how many unlicensed individuals are performing plumbing work in these areas. However, the Board estimates that the increase in the number of unlicensed plumbers that decide to become licensed will average two (2) new licensees per county over the 2002-2003 biennium, the estimated increase would total 508 newly licensed individuals over the biennium. Assuming that one-half of these individuals would sit for the journeyman plumber examination during the first year, and the other half over the second year, the increase in fees to the Board would be $12,700 in the first year and $19,050 in the second year, which is a total increase in fees of $31,750 for the biennium. Annual renewal fees for the additional licensees in fiscal years 2004-2006, would be $12,700 each year.

The Board was authorized to raise fees to ensure that it will cover the cost of implementation of HB 1505 and HB 217. The proposed reasonable license, examination and registration fees that will be paid by the licensees and registrants are expected to cover the costs of implementation of the new legislation. The Board will monitor the number of new licensees and registrants and the amount of fees collected to ensure that its costs are covered. The Board, at a later date, could deem it necessary to raise or lower the current proposed fees.

Mr. Maxwell also has determined that each year of the first five years the rules are effect the public benefit anticipated as a result of enforcing these rules will be increased public health, safety and welfare. This is expected to be accomplished by ensuring that the proper installation, service, maintenance and repair of plumbing systems is being performed by qualified individuals.

Comments on the proposed rule changes may be submitted within 30 days of publication of these proposed rule amendments in the Texas Register, to Robert L. Maxwell, Administrator, Texas State Board of Plumbing Examiners, 929 East 41st Street, P.O. Box 4200, Austin, Texas 78765-4200.

The amendments in accordance with HB 217 are proposed under Section 3 (Section 5B, Article 6243-101, V.T.C.S; and in accordance with HB 1505 are proposed under Section 5 (Section 5, Article 6243-101, V.T.C.S.), Section 11 (Section 8C, Article 6243-101, V.T.C.S), Section 14 (Section 12, Article 6243-101, V.T.C.S), and Section 24 which authorizes, empowers and directs the Board to prescribe, amend and enforce all rules and regulations necessary to carry out the Act.

No other statute, article, or code is affected by these proposed rule changes.

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