Twitter had Kilgore’s B.J. Owen breathing a sigh of relief Tuesday at Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s social media pledge to plumbers the state will plunge into a quagmire of its own creation and fix the flow.
Owen, Kilgore’s special services superintendent, is still a bit antsy, of course, after the Texas Legislature’s failure this session to ensure the state’s certified, licensed plumbers would have necessary regulation and oversight.
“Right now I’m having meetings with local inspectors,” he said, “and we’re working on a meeting with plumbers and inspectors to find out what they expect us to do.”
During the 86th Legislative Session – which ended May 27 – a measure to extend operations for the State Board of Plumbing Examiners failed to pass. Without a two-year extension, the agency is poised to shut down Sept. 1, ending its regulation and management of the licensing of plumbers.
Without a fix, Owen said, “All licenses are null and void at that time.”
The snafu spurred plumbers across the state to call for a special session to rectify the clogged legislation, and a rally was in the works for June 14.
On Tuesday, however, Abbott claimed a solution is in the works to keep the state board functioning without a special session.
From his Tweet, “TEXAS PLUMBERS: We’ve got this,” Abbott insisted. “The Legislature has given the Governor many tools in my toolbox to extend the State Board of Plumbing Examiners for two years without needing to call a special session. We will let you know very soon. Don’t worry.”
According to reporting in the Texas Tribune, Abbott’s plans to rescue the board aren’t clear.
“The board is set to wind down and cease existing in 2020 after state lawmakers recently failed to pass legislation that would have extended the agency’s life,” Patrick Svitek reported Tuesday afternoon. “Lawmakers also wiped out the part of the state code that gives Texas the authority to regulate the profession in the first place.”
At a bill signing in Dallas, “all possible options” are being explored, Abbott told reporters. “We will let you know later.”
In Kilgore, Owen’s eager for that news.
“Most municipalities don’t have extra staff available right now to start testing and licensing these plumbers,” he said. “I really don’t want to be the licensing authority for plumbers.”
He’s content to call it an oversight, as long as the fix is in the works – and soon.
“I think it’s just a mistake, I really do. I think it’s an oversight, that someone forgot the ramifications of what happens if they don’t go back and do this,” he said. Granted, “Their dissolution of the plumbing laws will take some other action.
“Until we get a determination on how this moves forward, it’s important that we still protect our water and sewage system as far as a municipality. We’re going to make sure that anybody who does plumbing work is certified to do plumbing work.”