As of Sept. 1, anyone can work as a plumber in Texas. That’s the date the Texas State Board of Plumbing Examiners, which has licensed plumbers in the Lone Star State since 1947, will be abolished.
“We’re going to put the safety of the homeowners and the public of Texas in jeopardy,” Roger Wakefield, owner of Green Plumbing, Richardson, Texas, told The Texas Tribune “Plumbers install medical gas, they install the potable drinking water that we have every day. If they’re not doing it right, people’s safety is at risk.”
State lawmakers ended the current legislative session without continuing the board through what's known as the "sunset process," an every-decade review and reform process of state agencies.
A Sunset Advisory Commission report issued last year called for changes to current plumber regulations, citing plumber shortages due in part to Hurricane Harvey and population growth.
A bill that would have transferred the board to the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation also failed to pass.
As a result of taking no action, Texas lawmakers not only abolished the regulatory agency, but the licensing laws it enforces. After Sept. 1, state law will not require plumbers to renew their licenses, pursue continuing education or carry commercial general liability insurance if they operate a business.
"All requirements of the plumbing license law will cease to apply," according to a three-page press release signed by the Lisa G. Hill, executive director of the plumbing board. Under state law, however, the board will adhere to a “wind-down” period of one year.
“Additionally, the Board is considering establishing a final database and roster of its licensees and registrants for historical purposes, which may be public facing and searchable even after the Board ceases operations,” the press release states. “Individuals who wish to be included in that final roster should ensure their license or registration is current on August 31, 2019.”
According to Wakefield, he and other plumbers are reaching out to Texas Gov. Greg Abbot with their concerns. But according to a tweet from Abbot, he does not plan on holding a special session to fix the laws. Texas legislators are not scheduled to reconvene until next year.
In the meantime, Wakefield says regulatory matters concerning plumbers and plumbing work will likely be left up to cities and municipalities.
An online petition to “Save The Texas State Board of Plumbing Examiners” currently has almost 9,000 signatures and well on its way to its stated goal of 10,000.
Plumbers are also planning a rally at the State Capitol on June 14, according to posts on multiple social media pages for plumber organizations.