Plumbers in Texas Score a Significant Win

Plumbers in Texas scored a significant win today when a bill written to dissolve the board regulating licensing of workers in the trade was amended to postpone the effective date for two years.

SB 621, sponsored in the House by Rep. Stan Lambert, R-Abilene, will advance to a final vote in the Texas House tomorrow. 

The amendment by Rep. Senfronia Thompson, D-Houston, would postpone the "sunset" of the State Board of Plumbing Examiners until Sept. 1, 2021. That would give the agency an opportunity to improve its processes and streamline licensure before the next Legislature convenes. 

Before the amendment, the bill would have abolished the agency on Sept. 1, 2019 and placed regulation of plumbers under the Department of Licensing and Regulation. The United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters and the United Labor Legislative Committee, as well as the Southwest Pipe Trades Association, OPPOSED SB 621, arguing that the installation of plumbing systems in public buildings, hospitals, and homes by plumbers that experience the benefit of hands-on training is essential to public safety and regulation by the agency ensures that safety. 

 Thing is, You Did It! The Texas AFL-CIO online action posted a day ago drew more than 700 letters to state representatives ahead of today's vote. Thompson's amendment won approval 81-61 after a test vote to table her proposal failed. The 81-61 margin occurred after promoters of the legislation worked the floor feverishly in a failed effort to prevent the amendment from being added to the bill. 

Leonard Aguilar of Southwest Pipe Trades said the vote on the Thompson amendment was the product of many hours of hard work by union members since the start of the legislative session. 

 "Great job by everybody," Aguilar said. "This was a bipartisan vote and a broad effort by the labor movement as well as our contractor partners, both union and non-union, to preserve high standards, including top-quality hands-on training, regarding who may install plumbing systems in buildings the public uses every day."