The Texas State Board of Plumbing Examiners is scheduled to be abolished next year after state lawmakers failed to pass legislation over this past weekend that would have extended the life of the agency.
The board, which is responsible for licensing plumbers and enforcing plumbing law, was formed in 1947. The agency was up for what’s known as the sunset review process, through which lawmakers periodically make assessments on how efficiently state agencies are being run and whether they should continue to exist.
Last year, the board drew fire from lawmakers in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, which devastated Houston and Southeast Texas in 2017.
Lawmakers on the Sunset Advisory Commission wanted to fold the TSBPE into the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation, an agency that oversees more than two dozen professions.
A report to the commission recommended a number of changes to the regulatory system, in particular, to speed up the process of plumber certification.
“Administering a paper-based written exam and outdated practical components creates inefficiencies and makes licensure less accessible in Texas,” the report states. “Difficulty meeting demand for plumbers exacerbates affordable housing shortages and increases costs for construction, repairs, and maintenance, all of which impact the state’s citizens and economy. With demand increasing, but supply plateauing, the regulation of plumbing in Texas is in need of serious change.”
According to this story from The Texas Tribune, the commission’s review found it took up to eight months to receive a plumbing license from the plumbing board at a time when the state and the nation are facing a workforce shortage of plumbers. The Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation estimated it could reduce that wait time to a matter of weeks.
Back in January, Roger Wakefield, owner of Texas Green Plumbing in Dallas posted this video on the issue to his YouTube channel. The half-hour report features an interview with Brian E. Francis, executive director, Texas Department of Licensing an Regulation; and Alicia Dover, executive director, Associated Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors of Texas.