TACCA LEGISLATIVE REPORT
By Shannon Noble
April 19, 2017
Breaking news from the front page of the Austin American-Statesman Tuesday, April 18, 2017: Local business leaders met with U.S. Senator John Cornyn of Texas in Austin on Monday, calling for state leaders to “streamline the requirements for occupational licenses for hairstylists, movers, auctioneers, plumbers and others.” Sen. Cornyn “is planning to introduce a bill in the U.S. Senate that would allow state governors to use existing federal job-training funds for ‘the identification, consolidation or elimination of unnecessarily burdensome licenses and certifications’ that bar aspiring workers without benefiting consumer safety.” This would allow Texas to use $9 million of its federal job-training funds on that effort. Cornyn says his bill, called “the New Hope Act,” has bi-partisan support.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott talked about excessive licensing requirements during his campaign for governor in 2014, and some licensing reductions have already occurred. He supports Cornyn’s proposal. Cornyn posted a Facebook link to a television news clip that leads with, “getting a job as a hairstylist, or a heating and air conditioning technician may soon be easier.” The reporter says Cornyn refers to “senseless regulations” as “obstacles that get in the way of people who want to work, but can’t qualify either because of the educational requirement or because of the fees, that bear no relationship to public safety which operate as an impediment or bar to their ability to enter the workforce.”
Contractor license fees in Texas are extremely low, and most of that revenue goes to pay for background checks, testing, stings to catch unlicensed and unqualified workers, and prosecuting them as well as licensees who run afoul of the law – all functions directly related to public safety.
Obviously, this puts the TACCA technician certification amendment bill, HB 3029 by Rep. Frullo, on even shakier ground. It got filed late because it was hard to find authors, and then it got caught up in the House’s effort to move as slowly as possible this session, and was not referred to House committee until March 27. Finally last week Rep. Frullo’s office requested a hearing and is hopeful it will be heard in the House Licensing and Administrative Procedures Committee on April 24. PLEASE CALL YOUR REPRESENTATIVE WHO IS A MEMBER OF THAT COMMITTEE AND ASK FOR SUPPORT FOR HB 3029. Talking points for the bill can be found here.
On March 30, Todd McAlister and Shannon Noble met for a second time with the Governor’s representative on licensing issues, to lay the ground work for the Governor’s support of the technician certification bill should it pass the Legislature. However, if it makes it to the House floor, the Freedom Caucus members and others who agree with Sen. Cornyn will attempt to vote it down.
The good news with legislation moving so slowly this session is that it’s easier to follow bills and harder to sneak bad amendments on. Here is an update on some of the bills TACCA is tracking:
HB 28 by Rep. Dennis Bonnen has been voted out of committee and will phase out and eventually eliminate the franchise tax.
Rep. Tom Craddick’s perennial statewide anti-texting bill, HB 62, has passed the House and made it to the Senate.
HB 639 by Rep. Doc Anderson, which would allow school districts to add students in internships or training programs to their liability insurance coverage, has been voted out of House committee.
HB 1055 by Rep. Burkett, is related to the anti-licensing movement. It basically freezes license fees to the amount they were on January 1, 2017. It has been voted out of committee.
SB 22, the P-TECH Schools bill by Chairman Larry Taylor, has passed the Senate and is waiting to be heard in House committee.
HB 3029 and SB 1439 FILED!
TACCA’s initiative to revamp the Technician Certification in Texas has passed on milestone with the filing of HB 3029 by Rep. Frullo of Lubbock, and SB 1439 (the companion bill) by Sen. Whitmire of Houston. Thanks to everyone who has helped to get us to this point. Next stop…a Committee Hearing in the Licensing and Administrative Procedures Committee. Look for more information on that process in the coming week/s. Why is TACCA asking to change the Technician Certification process?
**BECOMING A CERTIFIED TECHNICIAN IS CURRENTLY, AND WILL BE VOLUNTARY UNDER THE PROPOSED AMENDMENTS.
**TACCA desires to amend the definition and standards for achieving “certified technician” status in order to align the HVAC statute with Texas’ “60x30TX” plan: By 2030, at least 60 percent of Texans ages 25-34 will have a certificate or degree. The amended technician certificate will indicate that those students who complete the HVAC training program in high school, an apprenticeship, community college, technical institute, or military training, have identifiable, marketable skills.
**The change will also align with SB 22 by Chairman Larry Taylor, the P-TECH schools model, by rewarding students who pursue an HVAC career and pass a TDLR competency exam with a higher level credential, than registered technician.
**An approved training program will consist of at least 2,000 clock hours of a combination of instruction and practical experience in air conditioning and refrigeration-related work under the supervision of an instructor who is a certified teacher or a licensed air conditioning and refrigeration contractor.
**Training programs will be approved by TDLR and include high school programs such as P-TECH or other CTE programs, apprenticeship programs, community college or technical institute HVAC programs, military experience, or other on-the-job training.
**Students graduating from a 6-year P-TECH HVAC program, and who have passed a competency exam, will qualify to be certified technicians. Those students will also have completed HVAC internships while in school.
**A certified technician will have a faster path to contractor or HVAC business owner licensure than a registered technician, by 12 months.
**There are no proposed changes to the registered technician provisions, or to the exemption of installers from registration or certification.
**THIS IS NOT A NEW CERTIFICATE. There is currently a “certified technician” in the HVAC license law, but it has become diluted and is not widely utilized in the industry. This bill will make it meaningful in the industry.