Topic:
LEGISLATIVE INTENT; LEGISLATION; OCCUPATIONAL LICENSING; STATE BOARDS AND COMMISSIONS;
Location:
LICENSING; OCCUPATIONAL TRAINING;

OLR Research Report


January 28, 2008

 

2008-R-0080

HEATING, PIPING, AND COOLING LICENSURE:

SUMMARY AND HISTORY

By: Meghan Reilly, Legislative Fellow

You asked for information on the language, history, and arguments for and against Public Act 07-183, An Act Concerning Licensure for Heating, Piping, and Cooling, specifically in regards to a constituent inquiry. A copy of the act is enclosed.

SUMMARY

PA 07-183, An Act Concerning Licensure for Heating, Piping, and Cooling, originated in the General Law Committee as SB 1301. The act prohibits individuals without a heating, piping, and cooling work license from performing the on-site operation of (1) heating systems with a steam or water boiler maximum operating pressure of 15-pounds-per-square-inch gauge or greater or (2) air conditioning or refrigeration systems with an aggregate of more than 50 horsepower or 200 pounds of refrigerant.

In the public hearing, the bill's supporters cited environmental concerns, legitimization of trade, and public safety. Those who opposed the legislation questioned the definition of operation and the size of units. The Senate debate focused on the need for the bill, public safety issues and the significance of the 15-pounds-per-square-inch demarcation. The House debate addressed changing technology and the need for operator expertise.

BACKGROUND

Licensing Boards

State law establishes a licensing system for several trades overseen by different licensing boards, including the Examining Board for Heating, Piping, and Cooling Work. The boards determine who qualifies for licenses and enforce standards by disciplining licensees. Each trade has three levels of expertise—apprentice, journeyman, and contractor. Workers must meet education, training, and experience requirements to qualify for each level. Boards may create limited licenses authorizing licensees to work in a specific area of a trade. The boards establish less extensive requirements for workers attempting to qualify for a limited license. The licensing boards are within the Department of Consumer Protection. The department's duties include receiving complaints; carrying out investigations; and performing administrative tasks, such as physically issuing licenses and renewals. The law exempts many categories of individuals from the licensing requirements, including a homeowner working on his or her own single-family residence and certain employees of industrial firms.

PA 07-183

The act prohibits individuals without a heating, piping, and cooling work license from performing the on-site operation of (1) heating systems with a steam or water boiler maximum operating pressure of 15-pounds-per-square-inch gauge or greater or (2) air conditioning or refrigeration systems with an aggregate of more than 50 horsepower (or its kilowatt equivalent) or 200 pounds of refrigerant. The act applies to individuals operating these systems by manipulating, adjusting, or controlling them with sufficient technical knowledge and expertise, as determined by the consumer protection commissioner. The act exempts the passive monitoring of heating, air conditioning, or refrigeration systems from the licensing requirement. The law exempts certain categories of individuals from licensing requirements, including the one established by this act.

LEGISLATIVE HISTORY

PA 07-183, originally SB 1301, received a public hearing on March 1, 2007. On May 9, the Senate passed sSB 1301, as amended by Senate Amendment Schedule A, on consent, and the House passed the amended bill unanimously on June 5. It was signed into law by Governor Rell on July 5.

General Law Committee Public Hearing

Chris Jordan, Director of Combustion Technology at the Independent Connecticut Petroleum Association's Technical Education Center, opposed the bill as it applied to residential work. He did not oppose use in industrial or commercial work, as a 15 pound per square inch gauge would be classified. Jordan stated, “The way I look at it is, if the oil tank is bigger than the truck delivering the oil, then I think that operations becomes a much broader thing to look at . . . high, high pressures, dangerous situations.” In an effort to clarify the meaning of operation, Representative Stone asked Jordan if 'flipping the switch' was operating, and Jordan answered affirmatively.

Jeff Leone also opposed the bill, citing concerns about the size of systems covered under the legislation. He stated that larger equipment deserves a separate license, almost needing to be “a separate license for each facility, because every piece of equipment is different in each facility.” Leone supported equipment-specific training by the factory rather than statewide licensing.

Jack Ahern, Business Manager of Local 30 of the International Union of Operating Engineers, supported the bill. Ahern stated, “[operators currently licensed] deserve to be recognized as qualified operators.” Representative Stone recognized Ahern's point then responded, “but the other side of that is by requiring that anyone who does that [job] have a license, you're excluding everyone else from being able to do the work, including perhaps, those who have done it for the past eight and a half years without being licensed to do it.” Ahern stated he would be very much in favor of grandfathering those individuals. Ahern also cited environmental concerns, stating that efficient operation reduces energy consumption. Howard Kelley, also of Local 30, reiterated those concerns.

Chris Dileone, President of Guardian Services Industries, also cited environmental concerns in his support for the bill. He stated that “specific credentials” are important to him as an employer, as “licensing assures [him] that the individuals have a comprehensive knowledge of the systems that they are responsible for.”

Dennis Wainwright, instructor at the New Haven Job Course Center, stated that the bill would “correct a long known loophole in the occupational licensing law.” He stated that operating station engineers are often first responders in emergencies and need to have a high level of knowledge in related trades.

Senate Debate

In responding to a question regarding the amendment, Senator Colapietro stated, “I wouldn't want anyone that's not qualified to be operating a boiler with that kind of pressure [15 pounds per square inch] because you could in fact blow up a city block with it.” Senator Kissel asked if the amendment was a public safety measure, and Senator Colapietro responded that it was for clarification and licensing boiler operators. Senator Kissel then asked the need for the bill. Senator Colapietro responded, “. . . the reason for it was because people had asked to put safety first rather than the job first.”

Senator Debicella asked the basis for the specific numbers in the bill. Senator Colapietro responded, “. . . the bill is written for safety purposes.” Senator Debicella later stated, “Just to clarify, so there isn't a scientific reason why we picked 15 [pounds per square inch]. Someone has asked for it, some they. Who is this 'they' who has asked for this?” Senator Colapietro responded that the numbers were requested by operating engineers and that he had not hired a scientist.

House Debate

Representative Stone introduced the bill and stated that it included “within the scope of that particular license the operation, adjusting, controlling, or monitoring of certain types of heating and cooling systems, those which you would find in your larger commercial buildings that you need a certain degree of expertise in which to perform those processes.” He anticipated that the commissioner would create a sublicense and adopt regulations pursuant to CGS 20-332B.

Representative Greene supported the bill, stating “as technology changes . . . it's very important that the people that are running [the systems] and working on them and maintaining them know how to do this.”

MR:ts