TACCA Government Affairs History
by Shannon Noble, Government Affairs Counsel
Over the last 20-plus years, TACCA has enjoyed many successes at the Texas State Capitol and state agencies, in addition to playing constant defense. Along the way TACCA worked through the Appropriations process to increase the number of investigators dedicated to the Air Conditioning and Refrigeration (ACR) program at the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR), and successfully fought off a rule proposed by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality which would have required air conditioning units sold in Texas to be treated with a substance that was supposed to turn carbon dioxide to oxygen. The rule would have increased the cost to contractors and the substance wasn't effective. We never know what we might face next!
The following is a brief summary of what TACCA has worked on and achieved year by year.
2020 leading to 2021
TACCA continues to monitor the future of the regulation of plumbing, which will be before the Legislature again in 2021. We are also working on the review of TDLR by the Sunset Commission, including opportunities to achieve efficiencies and better governance through cross-disciplinary advisory committees; and working to eliminate municipal registration fees for HVAC contractors.
Closely followed the review of the Plumbing Board by the Sunset Commission and on the resulting bill, SB 621 by Sen. Nichols (R-Jacksonville) and Rep. Lambert (R-Abilene), which would have moved the regulation of plumbing to TDLR, but did not pass. TACCA proposed to the Sunset Commission staff and Sunset Commissioners’ legislative staff the creation of a trades board under the TDLR umbrella, to include HVAC contractors, plumbers and electricians.
Rep. Kuempel (R-Seguin) carried a bill for TACCA which would have eliminated municipal registration fees, but did not pass.
TACCA passed HB 3029 by Rep. Frullo (R-Lubbock) and Sen. Whitmire (D-Houston), which defined a "certified technician" as someone who has completed either a certification training program, 24 months of air conditioning and refrigeration-related work, or has applicable military experience; and has passed a competency examination. That bill went hand in hand with SB 22 by Se. Taylor (R-Friendswood) and Rep. Lucio (D-Brownsville), which established the Pathways in Technology Early College High School (P-TECH) program, and which TACCA was an early supporter of through our participation in the Texas Workforce Coalition.
TACCA also strongly supported another related bill, HB 639 by Rep. Anderson (R-Waco) and Sen. Menendez (D-San Antonio), which authorized the purchase of liability insurance coverage by public school districts for the benefit of businesses and students in career or technology training programs and providing for immunity.
Worked with the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) to pass HB 32, the Franchise Tax Reduction Act of 2015, by Rep. Bonnen (R-Angleton) and Sen. Nelson (R-Flower Mound).
HB 2294 by Rep. Kuempel and Sen. Carona (R-Dallas) was a one-paragraph bill whose caption read "Relating to an exemption from air conditioning and refrigeration contracting regulation for installation of a thermostat." TACCA fought hard on this one for two and a half months, against AT&T and many other interested parties. In the end, the bill provided that a thermostat must be installed by either a licensed HVAC contractor or a person licensed or registered under the Private Security Act.
HB 2643 by Rep. Hamilton (R-Mauriceville) and Sen. Watson (D-Austin) increased the experience required to apply for an HVAC contractor license to 48 months of practical experience in air conditioning and refrigeration-related work under the supervision of a licensed ACR contractor in the preceding 72 months. It also added air conditioning and refrigeration apprenticeship programs to the Occupations Code and added the requirement that a person holding an ACR contractor license may assign that license to only one permanent office of one air conditioning and refrigeration contracting company.
SB 694 by Sen. West (D-Dallas) and Rep. Wayne Smith (R-Baytown) clarified metal recycling industry requirements by specifying that the definition of "regulated metal" includes the condensing or evaporator coils for central heating or air conditioning units. It also required that if a person is attempting to sell regulated material which includes condensing or evaporator coils for central heating or air conditioning units, the seller must provide identifying information to the metal recycling entity.
TACCA also successfully fought numerous bills allowing counties to enact noise ordinances which either listed HVAC units or included decibel limits that would have barred many HVAC units.
HB 348 by Rep. Pena (D-Edinburg) and Sen. Carona made it a state jail felony to steal copper tubing if the value of the tubing is less than $20,000.
HB 3129 by Rep. Tracy King (D-Batesville) and Sen. Wentworth (R-San Antonio) amended the Occupations Code to specify that provisions in the Business and Commerce Code allowing a consumer to cancel an installation do not apply to a good or service provided by plumbers, air conditioning and refrigeration contractors, or electricians.
HB 4765 raised the exemption from the Franchise Tax from $300,000 to $1,000,000.
Added the definition of "technician," "registered technician," and "certified technician" to the HVAC license law in HB 463 by Rep. Flores (D-Mission) and Sen. Carona. Rep. Flores was the chair of the House Committee on Licensing and Administrative Procedures, and over TACCA's strenuous objections, tried to add sheet metal licensing to this bill, but Sen. Carona held strong in conference committee and the bill passed clean. HB 1281, a stand-alone sheet metal licensing bill by Rep. Bailey (D-Houston), had also been filed, and TACCA defeated it as well.
Supported passage of SB 1154 by Sen. Carona and Rep. Phillips (R-Sherman), relating to the registration and regulation of metal recycling entities, to address the theft and resale of copper tubing.
Killed two bills that provided for the licensing of journeyman and apprentice sheet metal workers.
Worked with the House author to delete from HB 1817 by Rep. Driver (R-Garland) and Sen. Brimer (R-Ft. Worth) a provision requiring engineers to perform "the design of equipment or a product in an environmental air conditioning system, a commercial refrigeration system, or a process cooling or heating system."
HB 2129 by Rep. Dennis Bonnen and Sen. Armbrister (D-Victoria) related to energy-saving measures that reduce the emission of air contaminants. TACCA secured an exclusion so that the State Energy Conservation Office “may not consider the feasibility and cost-benefit to consumers of setting appliance standards for air conditioning systems...," and a provision that electric utilities "shall consider establishing customer-option programs that encourage the reduction of air contaminant emissions, such as: (1) an appliance retirement and recycling program; (2) a solar water heating market transformation program; (3) an air conditioning tune-up program..."
Worked with Rep. Naishtat (D-Austin) and Sen. Fraser (R-Belton) to obtain an exemption for HVAC contracting from their HB 329 which regulated mold assessors and remediators.
HB 705 by Rep. Solomons (R-Carrollton) and Sen. Nelson is the bill that requires an "in-home service company," which includes an HVAC company, to perform criminal history background checks on all personnel that will be entering a person's home. TACCA worked to limit the types of crimes that bar employment to an offense against the person or the family; an offense against property; or public indecency.
Successfully worked to include continuing education for license holders in the TDLR Sunset bill, SB 279 by Sen. Jackson (R-La Porte) and Rep. Solomons.
HB 196 by Rep. Art Reyna (D-San Antonio) and Sen. Sibley (R-Waco) added the International Mechanical Code to the standards required in the HVAC statute.
SB 365 by Sen. Armbrister (D-Victoria) and Rep. Ritter (D-Nederland) adopted the International Residential Code and the National Electrical Code for use in residential building in Texas.
Created the Texas State Board of Mechanical Industries in HB 2155 by Rep. Yarborough (D-Houston), who is a master plumber, and Sen. Harris (R-Arlington), but it was vetoed by Gov. Bush. This bill would have transferred to the Texas State Board of Mechanical Industries the plumbing, HVAC and irrigation industries (electricians did not have a statewide license at the time so were not included).
Passed a major HVAC license clean-up bill, HB 1822 by Rep. Yarborough and Sen. Carona, which clarified the definition of "air conditioning and refrigeration contracting" and "contracting company," required each contracting company to employ in each permanent office a licensed contractor whose license is assigned to that company, and allowed a municipal or county official to issue a citation to an air conditioning and refrigeration contracting company that performs air conditioning and refrigeration contracting without a license; and provided that an unlicensed contractor may not collect a fee or otherwise enforce a contract for the services performed.
Included energy efficiency program funding in SB 7 by Sen. Sibley and Rep. Wolens (D-Dallas), which deregulated the electric utility industry, and spent the rest of 1999 hashing out the energy efficiency rules at the Public Utility Commission.
Passed HB 930 by Rep. Pickett (D-El Paso) and Sen. Carona, which required the HVAC Contractor exam to be administered at least monthly instead of quarterly, in locations around the state instead of just in Travis County, and allowed the exam to be taken electronically.
HB 2025 by Rep. Pickett and Sen. Carona prohibited the sale and use of flammable refrigerants; required a certificate of registration for the purchase of refrigerants or equipment containing refrigerant; authorized a municipal air conditioning or refrigeration inspector to issue a citation to violators.
TACCA successfully introduced, and worked to pass, the original Air Conditioning Contractors Law. During the next few years TACCA worked to establish itself in Austin, build relationships with legislators and work on legislative issues.
If you have questions about TACCA's legislative work, or would like to become involved, please contact email@example.com at the TACCA office.