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TACCA 2017 Legislative Success!
By Shannon Noble
November 1, 2017
 
Against all odds, HB 3029, TACCA’s bill revising the requirements for certified technician status, passed during the 2017 Regular Legislative Session and was signed into law by Governor Abbott! TACCA is very grateful to the hard work of the bills’s author and sponsor, Rep. John Frullo (R-Lubbock) and Sen. John Whitmire (D-Houston), and their staffs.  The new certification requirements include completion in the preceding 48 months of a certification training program consisting of at least 2,000 hours of a combination of classroom instruction and practical experience in ACR-related work, under the supervision of a licensed ACR contractor; OR 24 consecutive months of ACR-related work (1) under the supervision of a licensed ACR contractor, or (2) as part of the technician’s military service. In order to qualify to take the contractor exam, a technician certified under the new requirements for the preceding 12 months needs only 36 total months in the preceding 48 months of practical experience in ACR-related work under the supervision of a licensed contractor.

TDLR has mapped out a calendar for implementing the rules governing the new requirements. On January 3, 2018, the proposed rules will be considered by the ACR Advisory Committee and then will be published for 30 days of public comment beginning January 26, 2018. Those public comments will be reviewed by the Advisory Committee at their meeting on March 5, 2018, with adoption by the TDLR Commission scheduled for March 26, 2018. The certification courses will be approved beginning June 1, 2018, and applications for certification will begin being accepted on September 1, 2018.  The members of the Advisory Committee and the TDLR staff, along with TACCA members, are very hopeful that through these statutory and rule changes, a new category of certified technicians will be created who will be educated and adequately trained to enter the HVAC workforce, and later to sit for the contractor exam and become the ACR business owners of the future.
HB 3029 also repealed the statutory section which allowed municipalities to charge a fee to contractors in order to register to do business with the municipality. The electricians had a similar bill, and unfortunately, some municipalities are still charging registration fees. While TDLR will attempt to clarify the repeal in rule, it does not have jurisdiction over municipalities and cannot enforce the change. It may be necessary to involve Legislative committees, which is discussed below.

 

INTERIM CHARGES TO HOUSE AND SENATE COMMITTEES
With the recent issuance of Interim Charges to legislative committees by the Lt. Governor and Speaker, the Legislature is already looking to the next regular legislative session which will begin in January, 2019. As always, TACCA will monitor these interim committee hearings and publish relevant updates, as well as notices when testimony from contractors may be required.

 

The following are the issues most relevant or of interest to TACCA.

Senate Business and Commerce Committee:
- Free Market Electricity: Review the impact of competitive versus noncompetitive retail electricity markets across the state in terms of price and reliability, and consider the projected impact of establishing competitive electric retail markets statewide. This will probably include discussion of energy efficiency programs.
- Licensing and Fees: Review licensing requirements and fees imposed on entities within the committee's jurisdiction. Make recommendations for state licenses and fees that should be reduced, repealed or transitioned to private-sector enforcement.
- Social Media Access: Study social media privacy laws and whether job applicants and students' privacy is jeopardized under current law.
- Monitor the implementation of legislation addressed by the Senate Committee on Business and Commerce during the 85th Legislature (this includes HB 3029, the new technician certification bill), the implementation of legislation to deregulate occupational licensing; make recommendations regarding any additional legislation needed to improve, enhance, and/or complete implementation, such as clarifying the ban on municipal registration fees for contractors.

Senate Education Committee:
- Monitor implementation of SB 22, the P-TECH Schools bill and the workforce pathways created.
Senate Higher Education Committee:
- Review the 60X30 Texas Statewide Plan which states that by 2030, at least 60 percent of Texans ages 25-34 will have a certificate or degree, and make recommendations to accelerate innovation in higher education. HB 3029 helps achieve this goal.

House Committee on Business & Industry:
- Evaluate the adequacy of the workforce currently available to the industries responsible for rebuilding the state’s key infrastructure as well as residential and commercial properties damaged by Hurricane Harvey. Specifically, examine the labor needs within the construction industry and skilled trades and determine if local or state licensing requirements and regulations are an unnecessary barrier to the ongoing success of post-Harvey recovery. (Joint charge with the House Committee on Licensing & Administrative Procedures)
- Review all existing law concerning consumer rights and protections, including but not limited to statutes that address deceptive practices, landlord/tenant agreements, and homeowner/contractor disputes. Determine whether the provisions offer adequate guidance and protections in disaster and recovery situations.
- Review the increased use of third party data gathering, particularly individual background information and history, by Texas employers and businesses. Examine the standards for accessing, providing, and updating accurate background information used for employment purposes.
- Monitor the status of the Texas workers' compensation system,… review recent trends in employer participation in the system.
House Committee on Licensing & Administrative Procedures:
- Same joint charge on licensing and regulations with the Business & Industry Committee above
- Review local and state occupational licensing and regulations for redundancies – such as the municipal registration fee issue.
- Monitor the statutory changes enacted through S.B. 951 (85R), the Committee's omnibus deregulation omnibus bill. In particular, monitor the effectiveness and efficiency of the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation's (TDLR) role in regulating the applicable occupations and activities … Review TDLR's current strategic planning efforts and the potential recommendations for occupations and activities which may undergo regulation changes in the future.

 

TACCA is also a member of the ACCA - Allied Contractor Organization network that monitors legislative matters at the National level.  Visit ACCA at www.acca.org for more information on these matters.

more Calendar

12/16/2017
San Antonio Continuing Ed. - TDLR Approved

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