Plumbing Regulation Reauthorized in Texas
Two and a half years of uncertainty are finally over for the licensed plumbers of Texas!
Just 5 days before the Governor’s previous executive order maintaining plumbing regulation expired, House Bill 636 became law with immediate effect (12 days after signature by the House and Senate affirming overwhelming approval) when Governor Abbott signed it into law. The most significant provisions of the bill include:
- Extends the TSBPE until September 2027 (6 years, or half the Sunset cycle)
- Eliminates the RMP course requirement
- Specifically allows contracting (3rd party) for examination delivery
- Expands availability of information around disciplinary actions
- Requires fingerprinting and criminal background checks for all plumbers
- Allows issuance of a 30-day temporary plumbing license
- Requires reciprocity with other states having equivalent requirements
- Aligns license and endorsement expirations/renewals
- Simplifies the annual continuing education cycle
- Encourages plumbing training programs in high school
This concludes two and a half years of industry turmoil dating back to November 09, 2018 when the Texas Sunset Advisory Commission issued its staff report which recommended a massive overhaul of the Texas plumbing industry, including the merger of the TSBPE into the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR) and several other important recommendations. The final Sunset Bill to reauthorize plumbing regulation failed during the 2019 legislative session and the Governor subsequently extended it for two years via executive order with hurricane disaster recovery as the legal basis. This put the burden back on the 2021 legislature to revisit plumbing regulation, which it did as described above.
In the meantime, the Governor refilled the Texas State Board of Plumbing Examiners, now with two-thirds of its members being newly appointed, including the chairperson. The new Board has initiated what will likely be the most significant overhaul of their rules and operating practices in decades, with an initial focus on reducing the wait time for exams by increasing their availability state-wide in multiple locations, using third-party testing centers for the written components and Texas State Technical College campuses for the practical.
The TSBPE now has 6 years to make significant progress before undergoing another Sunset Review in 2027, bringing a welcome reprieve for most licensed Texas plumbers while maintaining a sense of urgency for the Board to capitalize on this new opportunity.
[Constructive comments worthy of licensed professionals are welcomed below.]