May 21, 2007 - Wholesalers Help Defeat Anti-Licensing Bill
Banding with several hundred Louisiana plumbing contractors and union members wearing bright green shirts that said, “Vote No to HB 601,” the Louisiana Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors (PHCC) stormed the state Capitol May 16 to successfully defeat legislation that would have reduced licensing standards to meet a demand for post-hurricane workers.
The PHCC worked with United Association and Mechanical Contractors Association of Louisiana, as well as Ferguson, LCR-Plumbing Warehouse, Coburns and some locally owned supply houses, to fight House Bill 601, proposed in March by Rep. Diane Winston (R-LA), which would have changed Louisiana’s plumbing code to lessen requirements to obtain a master plumber’s license. The bill, supported by general contractors and homebuilders, would have shifted oversight duties from the Louisiana Plumbing Board to the state Licensing Board for Contractors. It also would have adopted the International Plumbing Code as the State Sanitary and State Plumbing Code. It failed on a 14-4 vote.
“This bill would have lessened the skill level of the master plumber and journeyman, and would have been a giant step back to the way Louisiana was in the early ’20s, when there were bad sanitary conditions and diseases,” said PHCC-National Association President-elect Jim Finley, who is chairman of the Louisiana Plumbing Board. “The general contractors said the bill would ‘provide more boots on the ground with plumbers in them,’ but professional plumbers don’t want just anyone filling those boots.”
Regarding the bill’s proposal to transfer plumbing oversight from the state Plumbing Board, Finley said: “This was like a hostile takeover of a company. The state Licensing Board for Contractors is governed by general contractors, not plumbers - there are no plumbers represented at all on that board.”