HOUSTON (FOX 26) - Starting September 1, virtually anyone could become a plumber in Texas. This comes after lawmakers got rid of a state board that issues and regulates licenses for plumbers to perform work.
The Texas State Board of Plumbing Examiners is responsible for issuing licenses and enforcing the state's plumbing code. The agency was up for a routine Sunset review process by lawmakers, who assess its efficiency and organization periodically and determine whether certain agencies should be eliminated.
Lawmakers were looking to amend the process of how plumbers can get their licenses, but instead two bills filed during the 86th legislative session failed to pass. The bills would have extended the board's life.
Senate Bill 621 said that the State's Sunset Advisory Commission recommended transferring the licensing duties to the Texas Dept. of Licensing and Regulation. However, the bill did not pass and the board was abolished as a statute.
And skilled plumbers like Noah Espinoza who often perform trade work like soldering pipes to fixing water, sewage of gas leaks will soon have their licenses flushed away.
Noah said he had to document 8,000 hours of plumbing experience, pass multiple tests and background checks as required by the current Plumbing License Law in order to perform work at private homes or commercial businesses.
Noah and his wife, Crystal own a plumbing business called "All About Plumbing" based out of League City. They worry this change could lead to shoddy work that puts the health and safety of customers at risk.
"We see it all the time. Another plumber's gone out there, it's an unlicensed guy and we have to go over there usually to repair it after. To replace everything that they've installed," Noah said.
The board also has the authority to prosecute violations, but after September 1, accountability will fall on the responsibility of local municipalities, counties and special districts.
Business owners are also currently required to have commercial general liability insurance to operate a plumbing company, but will no longer have to under state law in the fall.
"We are completely insured and bonded and now they're going to make it to where you don't need insurance. If I went into anyone's house right now and God forbid anything happened, I'm covered, you're covered and we're covered as well. And they're taking all that away," Crystal said.
The Espinozas said they've built their success through solid, guaranteed work over the last 12 years. But they worry, their entire business and family, could now be in jeopardy.
"People have no idea what they're stripping from us. Nurses, how would you feel if you've been working 20-30 years of your life and all of a sudden, your license doesn't even matter. I don't understand that at all," Crystal said.
The board will continue to administer exams and issue licenses up until August 31.
There is a petition with more 20,000 signatures urging Governor Abbott to call for a special session to reconsider this measure. However, on May 27th, Abbott indicated via Twitter that he had no such intentions.
"Thanks Senators for your work with the House to pass legacy legislation that will improve the lives of every generation. See you in 2 years. NO SPECIAL SESSION. #txlege"