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Looking at the hundreds of bills filed for consideration during the 2019 legislative session, it may appear at first glance as though the session would be of little concern for tradesmen in Virginia. Wrong.
One piece of legislation (House Bill 2099) could be the beginning of a complicated issue for the trades. In 2017, the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC) studied the Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation (DPOR). JLARC staff reviewed the department’s staffing and organization, its processing of occupational licenses, and enforcement of occupational rules. JLARC staff also assessed the affordability of fees and processes for adjusting fees. The bill would eliminate licensing for selected professions (by deregulating opticians, residential energy analysts, and common interest community managers) regulated by the DPOR. At first blush, this may seem like someone else's fight, but next year it might impact licenses for plumbing and HVAC.
A lot of states have been moving toward deregulating trades and this proposal could signal additional deregulation in Virginia. In particular, Texas legislators voted to eliminate the plumbing board, a move that has been temporarily suspended by the governor.
Appearing at the PHCC VA Board meeting in January, Delegate Joseph Lindsey – a licensed plumber and attorney – agreed that the proposal should be watched carefully.
PHCC VA encouraged its members to share their concerns with their elected officials. Following is a letter sent by PHCC:
During this session of the general assembly you may be asked to consider house bill 2099 which implements the recommendations of the joint legislative audit and review commission in its report on operations and performance of the department of professional and occupational regulation (dpor) by deregulating three professions (opticians, residential energy analysts, and common interest community managers).
The plumbing heating and cooling contractors of virginia (phccva) applauds the intention of reducing regulatory mass, but eliminating licensure runs counter to prime functions of a legislative body:
· to provide service to constituencies and constituents.
· to be responsive, at least to some degree, to what citizens want, as well as to what those constituents need.
DPOR is quick to note that the department exists, not to aid regulants, but to protect the citizens of the Commonwealth. The 18 boards regulate 150 licenses held by more than 300,000 people practicing a profession in Virginia. These boards determine the “competency necessary to practice without harming the public, not to enhance professional stature or limit competition by keeping newcomers out.”
PHCCVA represents licensed plumbers, HVAC contractors and fuel gas tradesmen in Virginia. Our members take seriously the responsibility to protect the health and safety of Virginians. By eliminating licensure for selected professions the General Assembly is selectively weighing the importance of what that profession does. For instance, are eyeglasses more or less important than real estate?
We urge you to defeat this measure.