Emily Allen Published

W.Va. House Votes To Relax Plumber, Electrician License Requirements

House Delegate Phillip DiSerio speaks against a bill to relax licensing requirements for plumbers and electricians.

In the latest bill to pass the West Virginia House of Delegates dealing with occupational licenses, lawmakers voted to relax experience requirements for plumbers, sprinkler fitters and electricians.

House Bill 2008 replaces certain hourly requirements for plumbers with a written proficiency exam and scales back five-year experience requirements for master electricians to two years.

It also includes provisions for U.S. veterans who can demonstrate they are certified in plumbing or electricity from their time in the military.

Delegates voted 61-37 in favor of the legislation. The bill’s lead sponsor, Del. Geoff Foster, said it was about attracting skilled workers to West Virginia and addressing barriers to employment.

“This is a jobs bill, to create jobs here in West Virginia,” Foster said Monday.

Democrats argued that the bill scales back necessary requirements for consumer protection, and that it’s unfair to licensed West Virginians who already have met existing experience requirements.

Del. Phillip Diserio, D-Brooke, pointed to an amendment that the House of Delegates agreed to pass last week, exempting crane operators from the bill.

Del. Vernon Criss, R-Wood, asked delegates on Friday to remove crane operators from the bill, referring to other professions like doctors and lawyers that have been exempted from similar licensing legislation the House has passed this year.

“My family business of almost 80 years, third generation, we’re in the river-servicing business,” Criss said Friday. “We deal with cranes on a daily basis. We would like to have the same opportunities as the doctors, lawyers, the engineers, to be able to do our thing without this bill.”

“You voted with the person that knows the industry, and told you, this is bad for the industry,” said Diserio, an electrician. “He asked you to take his part out because it’s bad for the bill. I’m asking you to take the whole bill out because it’s bad for the bill.”

House Bill 2008 was the 19th bill to pass the House, less than two weeks into the 60-day session.

It’s also the latest legislation dealing with occupational licensing to pass the House. On Thursday, delegates advanced House Bill 2007, to recognize out-of-state licenses for a slew of regulated professions, as long as an individual plans to move to West Virginia.

On Thursday, lawmakers agreed to eliminate requirements for continuing education to hair stylists and barbers.

All three bills now await Senate consideration.

Emily Allen is a Report for America corps member.