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H.758

Introduced by   Representatives Keenan of St. Albans City, Head of S. Burlington, Howard of Rutland City, Howrigan of Fairfield, Reese of Pomfret, Shand of Weathersfield and Trombley of Grand Isle

Referred to Committee on

Date:

Subject:  Public safety; licensing; plumbers; unlicensed plumbers; plumbers examining board; fees; penalties

Statement of purpose:  This bill proposes to revise generally the plumbers’ licensing statute, including clarifying the parameters of various licenses and specialties, increasing the number of members of the plumbers examining board, and increasing the number of plumbing inspectors.

AN ACT RELATING TO LICENSING OF PLUMBERS

It is hereby enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont:

Sec. 1.  26 V.S.A. § 2172 is amended to read:

§ 2172.  DEFINITIONS

The following words and phrases when used in this chapter shall be construed as follows:

(1)  A “public water system” or “public sewerage disposal system” shall mean any system supplying or serving 15 or more customers, each family, tenement, store or other establishment being considered a single customer.  “Department” means the department of public safety.

(2)  A “master plumber” shall mean means any person, licensed under this chapter, that as a business, installs plumbing and specialty systems, hires or employs.  A master plumber may employ a person or persons to do plumbing or specialty work, or supervises journey.  A master plumber shall supervise journeyman plumbers, or apprentice plumbers, or specialists in completion of their work.  A master plumber shall display his or her Vermont plumbing license number in any advertising.

(3)  A “journeyman plumber” shall mean means any person licensed under this chapter who installs plumbing and water treatment or heating specialties under the direction of a master plumber.  A journeyman plumber may supervise an apprentice or a specialist employed by a master plumber and under the master plumber’s direction.  A journeyman plumber shall not act as a master plumber.

(4)  An “apprentice plumber” shall mean means any person, employed by a master plumber or and under the direction of a master plumber or a journeyman plumber, who is engaged in learning and assisting in the installation of plumbing and water treatment or heating specialties under an apprenticeship program properly registered with the Vermont apprenticeship council.  An apprentice plumber shall be supervised on the job by either a master or a journeyman plumber.

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(7)  “State plumbing inspector” means a master plumber or duly qualified employee of the department designated by the commissioner to enforce the rules and regulations pursuant to this chapter.

(8)  “Municipal inspector” means a plumbing inspector authorized to conduct municipal inspections pursuant to section 2174 of this chapter title.

(9)  “Specialist” means any person pursuant to section 2192 of this title licensed under this chapter who performs to perform work only in connection with water treatment and heating specialties, or both, or performs.  A specialist may perform that work as a principal business or an auxiliary to a principal business for the person’s own account as designated on the person’s license.  A specialist shall display his or her Vermont specialist license number in any advertising.

(10)  “Commissioner” means the commissioner of public safety who, in addition to other authority and powers, has the powers of the state plumbing inspector and may perform inspections when necessary.

(11)  “Legislative body” means the selectboard, the alderboard, city council or board of trustees of a municipality or an incorporated village

“Municipality” means a city, town, incorporated village, gore, fire district, or other municipal entity.

(12)  “Work notice” means the notice required to be filed under this chapter by a licensee or owner pursuant to subdivision 2198(1)(A) prior to commencement of work.

Sec. 2.  26 V.S.A. § 2173 is amended to read:

§ 2173.  RULES ADOPTED BY THE BOARD

(a)  The plumber’s examining board may, pursuant to the provisions of

3 V.S.A. chapter 25 (Administrative Procedure Act), make and revise such plumbing rules as necessary for protection of the public health and safety.  The rules shall be in effect in every city, village, and town having a public water system or public sewerage system and apply to all premises connected to the systems and all public buildings containing plumbing or water treatment and heating specialties whether they are connected to a public water or sewerage system in Vermont, the useful occupancy of which requires a water supply or a wastewater system, or both.  The local municipal board of health and the commissioner of public safety shall each have authority to enforce these rules.  The rules shall be limited to minimum performance standards reasonably necessary for the protection of the public against accepted health and safety hazards with regard to both plumbing and specialty work.  The board may, if it finds it practicable to do so, adopt the provisions of a nationally recognized plumbing code, heating, and mechanical codes.

(b)  The commissioner, with the approval of the board, shall make rules and adopt procedures and priorities for inspections and enforcement. Installations All installations shall be regulated by this chapter and the rules of the board shall be and inspected by a state plumbing inspector.  The commissioner may set priorities Priorities shall be based on consideration of health and safety risks to persons and property, type and size of the building, and the complexity and size of the installation or job.

(c)  The commissioner or any state plumbing inspector designated by the commissioner shall have the authority to enter any premises in which an installation subject to the rules of the board is being or has been installed, replaced or repaired for the purpose of performing inspections necessary to carry out inspection responsibilities under this subchapter.  If the owner or occupant of the premises refuses entry, the commissioner may apply to any superior court to issue an order enforcing the right of entry.

(d)  The department shall maintain a minimum of at least one state plumbing inspector at each of the department’s regional offices or a minimum of four state plumbing inspectors if the number of regional offices is decreased to fewer than four.  A chief plumbing inspector may be designated by the commissioner.

Sec. 3.  26 V.S.A. § 2174 is amended to read:

§ 2174.  MUNICIPAL RULES AND REGULATIONS; MUNICIPAL

              INSPECTIONS

(a)  The legislative body A municipality may establish inspection procedures and appoint trained, qualified master plumbers to conduct municipal inspections.  If the board determines that the inspection procedures, training, and qualifications of the municipal plumbing inspectors are sufficient, the commissioner may assign the responsibility to inspect plumbing and specialty installations within the municipality to the municipality.  Municipal inspection standards shall be, at a minimum, equal to state standards. Municipal standards may exceed state standards with approval of the board. An assignment of responsibility under this subsection shall not affect the authority of the board or the commissioner under this subchapter.

(b)  Inspection procedures, including the issuance of work notices, shall be the same as for state plumbing inspections.  A municipal inspector shall have the authority to may enter a premises to carry out inspection responsibilities in accordance with the rules and procedures established by the board.  The legislative body municipality may also establish reasonable fees for inspections which shall be in lieu of fees charged by the state.

(c)  If, after inspection of the plumbing installation, a violation of the rules of the board or the inspection procedures of the municipality is found, a municipal inspector may:

* * *

(2)  Invalidate the municipal work permit.

(3)  Pursue disciplinary procedures under section 2178 of this chapter 2175(b) of this title.

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(f)  The commissioner or the board may revoke an assignment of responsibility to a municipality granted under this section if the commissioner or the board determines that the training or qualifications of the municipal inspectors or the inspection procedure adopted by the legislative body municipality is insufficient.

Sec. 4.  26 V.S.A. § 2175 is amended to read:

§ 2175.  WORK NOTICE; FEES; ENFORCEMENT; APPEALS;

              PENALTIES

(a)  Work in installations subject to the rules of the board shall not commence until a work notice has been received and validated by the department of public safety.  The following schedule of work notice fees shall be paid to the commissioner or a designated representative prior to the validation of a work notice.

(1)  For all plumbing and specialty work, identified as a priority for inspection and review under section 2173(b) of this title governed by a departmental work notice, the fee shall be:

(A)  $7.00 for each plumbing fixture described as a washing machine, dishwasher, grease trap, oil interceptor, sand interceptor, sewage ejector pump, water closet, urinal, bidet, disposal, drinking fountain, water cooler, lavatory, bathtub, shower, sink, hose bib, floor, drain or similar device that uses potable water or drains into a drainage or venting system.  The total shall not be less than $20.00.

(B)  $10.00 for each plumbing or specialty fixture described as a water heater, hydronic heating unit, domestic hot water coil or, water meter, purifier, softener, or other water treatment device or domestic fire sprinkler system.

(2)  For all plumbing work, not identified as a priority for inspection and review under section 2173(b) of this title, the fee shall be:

(A)  $20.00 for all plumbing work.

(B)  $10.00 for all plumbing work involving a water heater, hydronic heating unit, domestic hot water coil or water treatment device.

(3)(2)  At the discretion of the commissioner, whenever an owner or, licensed plumber, or licensed specialist requests for the owner’s or licensed plumber’s benefit that an inspection be made outside the normal working hours, all fees payable by the owner under this section shall be paid in an amount twice that indicated under this section.

(b)  If the commissioner or designee state plumbing inspector finds a violation of the rules adopted under this chapter by an individual who is licensed or exempt under this chapter, the commissioner or designee state plumbing inspector may:

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(d)  The commissioner may after notice and an opportunity for hearing, assess an administrative penalty of not more than $1,000.00 $3,000.00 per violation against a person, licensed or unlicensed, licensee or exemptee who violates this chapter, or any order lawfully issued under this chapter.  Penalties assessed shall be related to the severity of the violation.

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(f)  If  a state plumbing inspector finds a violation of this chapter by an unlicensed or nonexempt individual, the state plumbing inspector may:

(1)  Order the violator to cease all plumbing and specialty work at the premises.

(2)  Order any public water and sewerage company or any private water provider, as appropriate, not to connect or to disconnect water or sewer service, or both, to all or a portion of the premises until the violation is corrected.

(3)  Order any company that supplies fuel to the premises to disconnect the fuel supply until the violation has been corrected.

(4)  Issue the violator an administrative citation.

(5)  Pursue any combination of the remedies provided under this subsection.

(g)  Violation of any rule adopted under this subchapter shall be prima facie evidence of negligence in any civil action for damages which results from the violation.

Sec. 5.  26 V.S.A. § 2181(a) and (c)(3) and (4) are amended to read:

§ 2181.  PLUMBER’S EXAMINING BOARD; MEMBERSHIP; POWERS

(a)  A plumber’s examining board, within the department of public safety, hereinafter called “board,” shall consist of five seven members, one of whom shall be the commissioner of public safety or designee and one of whom shall represent be the commissioner of health or designee.  The remaining three five members shall be appointed by the governor with the advice and consent of the senate.  One of the appointive Three of the appointed members shall be a master plumber master plumbers, one shall be a journey journeyman plumber, and one shall be a public member not associated with the plumbing or heating trades.  The board shall elect a chair at the first meeting of each calendar year.  No board member shall be chair for more than two consecutive years, but may be chair after one year of not being chair.  A new chair shall be elected if a chair is unable to serve the remainder of the one-year term.

(3)  Violation by a licensee of the rules of the department of health, the department of public safety, or the board.

(4)  Failure to comply with a written notice issued under sections 2173, 2174 or 2175 of this title.

Sec. 6.  26 V.S.A. § 2182(a) is amended to read:

(a)  Members of the board shall be appointed for four year terms.  Two of the appointed members shall initially be appointed for terms of two years beginning July 1 of the year of appointment.

Sec. 7.  26 V.S.A. § 2183 is amended to read:

§ 2183.  FEES; BOOKS AND RECORDS

All fees for examinations, licenses, and renewals shall be forwarded to the department of public safety.  The board shall have free and unrestricted access to all books, notes, records, transcriptions, recordings, and other related data within the care of the department of public safety.

Sec. 8.  26 V.S.A. § 2195 is amended to read:
§ 2195.  EXPIRATION AND RENEWAL; RENEWAL; REINSTATEMENT;

              CONTINUING EDUCATION

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(b)  If a licensee fails to renew his or her license prior to expiration, the licensee may reinstate the license within 90 days of its expiration by paying the reinstatement fee of $15.00 $25.00 in addition to the renewal fee.

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(d)  After July 1, 1996, applicants Applicants for license renewal shall provide to the board evidence of completion of eight hours of continued training or instruction, approved by the board, within the previous 24-month period.

Sec. 9.  26 V.S.A. § 2192a(b), (c), (d), and (e) are amended to read:

(b)  Specialty fields include the following:

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(2)  Heating System Specialist:  Installation, replacement, and repair of residential, industrial, or commercial hydronic space heating systems, including radiant, solar, and other types of hydronic system design.  Any work on steam systems shall be limited to steam systems with operating pressure not to exceed 15 PSIG.  Heating system specialists shall be allowed to perform the duties of a water heater specialist.

(3)  Water Treatment Specialist:  Installation, replacement, and repair of residential, industrial, or commercial potable water treatment, boiler water treatment, and filtration equipment.

(c)  A person duly licensed as a specialist under this section may perform specialty work, either as an employee or as an independent contractor only in connection with the specialty field designated in this section and on the person’s license.  A specialty business may hire or employ only people licensed in the specialty of the business.

(d)  A specialist may perform a supply connection to an existing water supply for test and related system operation, but at no time shall any specialist perform any plumbing or heating work that is not specified or permitted under the specialist’s license, or advertise as doing that work.

(e)  Specialty classes shall be provided by the department of labor and industry or others.

Sec. 10.  26 V.S.A. § 2197 is amended to read:
§ 2197.  PENALTY

Any person who installs, any plumbing or specialty installation or who advertises as such, except as provided in section 2198 of this title, without first having obtained an appropriate license under this chapter or who employs a person to perform any plumbing work for which the employee is not licensed or procures any license wrongfully or by fraud, shall be fined not more than $1,000.00 $3,000.00 for each offense.


Sec. 11.  26 V.S.A. § 2198 is amended to read:
§ 2198.  EXCEPTIONS EXEMPTIONS; LICENSE NOT REQUIRED

(a)  All plumbing and specialty work performed in Vermont shall be performed by persons licensed under this chapter except that a license shall not be required for the following types of work:

(1)  Any plumbing and specialty work performed by an owner or the owner’s regular employees in the owner-occupied freestanding single family dwelling or in outbuildings accessory to the owner-occupied, single family dwelling.  In the interests of health and safety, owners shall:

(A)  Obtain a work notice and pay fees pursuant to subsection 2175(a) of this title.

(B)  Not violate the rules adopted under this chapter.

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(5)  A person who performs miscellaneous jobs of manual labor on the person’s own property in the course of which plumbing repairs or alterations are made, provided that the work conforms to the rules adopted under this chapter.

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Sec. 12.  26 V.S.A. § 2199 is amended to read:

§ 2199.  INSPECTIONS

The commissioner of public safety or designee may inspect premises subject to the rules adopted under section 2173 of this title All premises in Vermont that contain plumbing and specialty work are subject to inspection by the commissioner or designee.



Published by:

The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street
Montpelier, Vermont


www.leg.state.vt.us