Texas Plumbers Soon Won't Need a License; What it Means for You

Scott Ganske comes from generations of plumbers.

"My grandfather was a plumber. My dad's a plumber. Two of my sons are going to be plumbers," he said.

It's in his blood, and he's spent countless hours in the classroom, and in the field, to make sure he's the best plumber he can be.

But starting this September, plumbers in Texas will not have to be licensed, insured and they won't be required to take continuing education classes.

"We have to have regulation. We can't just have anyone out there doing plumbing," Ganske said. "Any guy with a pickup and a box of tools is going to be like, 'Oh yeah, I can fix that.'"

The Texas State Board of Plumbing Examiners oversees plumbing in Texas. 

But that agency will soon be abolished, eliminating state requirements for plumbers.

Here's how it all went down in Austin.

Some lawmakers felt it was more appropriate for plumbing to be managed by the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation.

Others wanted to keep the the Texas State Board of Plumbing Examiners -- the stand alone plumbing agency.

But last week, lawmakers took no action Senate Bill 621, and as a result, state plumbing regulation as a whole went down the drain.

"The tragedy is that this didn't need to happen," Rep. Dan Flynn (R-Canton) said.

Flynn is a member of the Texas Sunset Advisory Commission, which evaluates the need for agencies in the state and proposes recommendations for positive change.

Flynn said he fought to keep the state's plumbing agency alive, but was open to a compromise that would have allowed plumbing to be overseen by the TDLR for a short period of time.

"It's unfortunate that some legislators wanted their way or the highway and that brings us down to the situation where we are," Flynn said.

But plumbers like Philip Sanders called this unacceptable.

He's owned his own plumbing company for nearly 33 years, 

From gas leaks to frozen pipes and raw sewage, he said a plumber's job is no easy task.

Sanders said he believed the lack of regulation could pose a major safety risk to homeowners statewide.

"We deal with the safety of protecting from fire and explosion... this is serious," he said.

And while some unlicensed plumbers come cheaper, he said consumers will end up paying in the long run.

That's why he, and many other plumbers in Texas, are demanding a special session called by Gov. Greg Abbot to reinstate plumbing regulation in the state.

"It's not going to get done unless our governor steps up to the plate. If he doesn't, my opinion, that's bad leadership," Sanders said.

NBC 5 Responds reached out to Gov. Abbot's office about a special session, but had not heard back Monday afternoon.

Meanwhile plumbers across the state plan to rally in Austin on June 14.

They said they're fighting for their industry, and consumers who deserve better.

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