Emily Allen Published

Bill Relaxing Plumbing, Electrician Requirements Clears W.Va. Legislature

The West Virginia House of Delegates agreed to pass a Senate-amended version of House Bill 2008 for occupational licensing requirements.

A bill relaxing licensing standards for elevator mechanics, electricians, plumbers, crane operators, sprinkler fitters and HVAC technicians has cleared both chambers of the West Virginia Legislature.

House Bill 2008 reduces hourly experience requirements for certified sprinkler fitters, electricians and HVAC technicians. It allows plumbers to achieve certification by passing a written exam, replacing previous hours-of-experience requirements for that profession.

The bill would allow U.S. veterans who have worked as HVAC technicians for the military to apply for certification using their experience from that time.

The legislation further nixes state regulatory requirements for crane operators, still subjecting them to U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration requirements.

Republicans who supported the bill, in both the House and Senate, said it was about increasing job opportunities in West Virginia.

“The idea is not to be hurting jobs, but to get government and bureaucracy out of the way and still achieve these things in a safe manner,” said House Majority Leader Amy Summers, R-Taylor, before the House’s vote Thursday.

Democrats in both chambers who opposed the legislation questioned the bill’s attention to consumer safety.

Del. Phillip DiSerio, D-Brooke, said Thursday the legislation would “steal” jobs from West Virginians.

“Let’s just make it so anybody can come here and work,” DiSerio said. “Let’s not worry about our citizens. … Let’s just go ahead and vote this bill through.”

The House voted 59 to 40 to advance the legislation, with amendments from the Senate, to the governor Thursday.

The Senate voted in favor of the legislation, 17 to 16, on Wednesday.

This is one of a few highly debated bills originating in the House of Delegates to relax occupational licensing rules.

House Bill 2007, which is still in the Senate Government Organization Committee, would create a “universal occupational licensing recognition act,” calling on the state to recognize licensing achieved for certain professions from other states.

Emily Allen is a Report for America corps member.