The Texas legislature eliminated the need for the Texas State Board of Plumbing Examiners (TSBPE) or the requirement that plumbers be licensed in our state. Governor Greg Abbott issued an executive order to extend the activity of the TSBPE past its expiration date of September 1, 2019. In his proclamation, Gov. Abbott delayed the abolition of the board and Texas Plumbing License Law until May 31, 2021.
The Sunset Advisory Committee tasked to review the necessity for and effectiveness of the TSBPE, recommended transferring administration and enforcement of Texas Plumbing License Law to the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR). The recommendation was included in Senate Bill 621 for vote by the legislature. However, the regular session of the Texas legislature adjourned prior to it taking action to extend Plumbing License Law or to transfer regulation of plumbing to the TDLR.
Plumbers and other members of the public urged the governor to call for a special session of the legislature to readdress the decision. Gov. Abbott instead addressed the situation by executive order.
Pursuant to the Texas Government Code, the Governor may suspend the provisions of any regulatory statute if strict compliance with it “would in any way prevent, hinder, or delay necessary action in coping with a disaster.” Tex. Gov. Code § 418.016(a). Gov. Abbott suspended Section 1301.003 of the Texas Occupations Code, the section subjecting the TSBPE to the Texas Sunset Act that allows for the abolition of the Board if it is not expressly continued by the legislature. Suspension of that code section prevents the imminent abolition of the TSBPE and expiration of Plumbing License Law.
The Governor has continued to issue disaster proclamations for Texas in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. He states, “a qualified workforce of licensed plumbers throughout the state, including from areas not directly affected by Hurricane Harvey, will be essential as those funds are being invested in crucial infrastructure, medical facilities, living facilities, and other construction projects.”
The Governor used the powers granted to his office by the Legislature to ensure that plumbers in Texas continue to be held to certain standards of the vocation. Under the proclamation, the TSBPE is allowed to operate through May 31, 2021, giving the Legislature time to address the issue.
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