Republican delegate Eric Householder has recently sponsored and voted for a bill at a recent House of Delegates committee meeting in West Virginia which would repeal all state laws that regulate HVAC technicians.
The main laws that Householder is attempting to repeal concern the licensing of HVAC technicians in the state, and according to The Charleston Gazette, these laws were put in place after a guest at a South Charleston hotel was killed due to carbon monoxide poisoning in 2012 (caused by faulty work from HVAC technicians).
According to the current state laws, all HVAC technicians are required to pass a test and pay a licensing fee. More than anything else, the Gazette states, the legislation was put into effect last year to ensure the safety of state residents — and not to add to the estimated $65 billion of revenue already generated by the U.S. HVAC industry.
It’s reported that the state’s Fire Marshal’s Office and the Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety both support the regulation of HVAC licensing tests for safety reasons. West Virginia is currently one of 12 states that regulate HVAC technicians doe safety purposes.
After some basic research, however, Householder’s adamant stance against the bill makes a lot of sense: he owns the HVAC company Air-Row Sheet Metal, based in Martinsburg. A law requiring that all state HVAC technicians be licensed, including those working at Air-Row Sheet Metal, certainly affects Householder’s second professional life.
“I already have my [HVAC] license, a contractor’s license, so there’s no direct benefit to me with the [licensing] bill,” Householder stated. “I’m just trying to advocate and do the right thing…It would be tough for anyone to pass [the current licensing test]. That test could be so subjective, so tough, you wouldn’t have anyone pass it.”
The Gazette states that Householder attempted to “fast track his bill” by skirting analysis by the state’s House Judiciary Committee and sending the bill straight to the House floor, but the state’s labor committee decided to send the bill back to be reviewed by the Judiciary Committee first.
If the Committee agrees to send the bill to the House for a vote, it’s possible that Householder could request to be excused from voting, so as not to appear biased (as he claims that he is not).
Householder has explained that he might be willing to accept the state’s legislature if the vocabulary is changed from “license” to “certification,” since an HVAC certification could be obtained through a trade school or manufacturer (rather than through the state).
“There wasn’t a need for [HVAC] licensure in West Virginia,” Householder has continued to assert. “Licensure doesn’t save lives.”