Friday, January 24, 2014

Texas' New Occupational Licensing Rules

The 83rd Legislative session passed HBs 798, 1302, 1659, 1846 and SB 162 which will affect occupational licensing regulations and standards. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality is set to approve applicable new regulations on Jan. 29th.

The new rules will the greatest impact upon three key demographics in Texas. The greatest impact appears to be on convicted sex offenders.

HB 1302 changed Texas laws making it mandatory that convicted sex offenders be escorted if they are to do any work in a private residence. In other words, a convicted registered sex offender would have to have a company escort with him or her if he or she were to do any work in a home. This includes maintenance personnel working on rental properties.

Another group of people affected are dead-beat parents. If somebody working in a job that requires an occupational license is 6 months or more behind on child support payments, their application will be denied. This does not affect licenses already in effect. It applies only to new applications and renewals. But dead-beats need not worry. All they have to do is make a single $200 child support payment before submitting their application and the process won't be impeded.

The third demographic are military veterans, retirees and reservists. The state will grant practical experience hours for training and work done while in the military, crediting it towards occupational licensing requirements. For example, if somebody is trying to become a licensed phlebotomist, their time as a military combat medic or blood collection tech will count towards the training and practical experience required for the equivalent civilian occupational license. Those directly affected by this opportunity need to check with their licensing agency for details on how to get the credits converted. 

Here is a snippet of the pending rule proposal:

The proposed rules implement requirements in House Bill (HB) 798, HB1302, HB1659, HB1846, and Senate Bill (SB) 162 from the 83rd Legislature, 2013. These bills impact Chapter 30, Sub-chapter A.

The proposed rules will enable the commission to: exclude Class C misdemeanor convictions when reviewing applications for occupational licenses as required by Texas Occupations Code, Chapter 53, Consequences of Criminal Conviction, amended by HB798; prohibiting certain registered sex offenders from providing services in a person's residence unless supervised require individuals with an occupational license to be directly supervised when performing certain types of services, if registered as a sex offender, as required by Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, Chapter 62, Sex Offender Registration Program, amended by HB 1302; consider individuals charged with certain offenses to have been convicted of an offense for purposes of this sub-chapter, regardless of whether the proceedings were dismissed, as required by Texas Occupations Code, Chapter 53, amended by HB 1659; suspend or refuse the application of an individual who has not  made a minimum payment of child support as required by Texas Family Code, Chapter 232, Suspension of License, amended by HB1846; recognize verified military service, training, or education from military service members and military veterans when considering occupational licensing applications as required by Texas  Occupations Code, Chapter 55, License While on Military Duty and for Military Spouses, amended by SB 162; and expedite occupational licensing applications from military spouses as required by Texas Occupations Code, Chapter 55, License While on Military Duty and for Military Spouses, amended by SB162.

The proposed rules will:  add relevant statutory citations, remove redundant citations, and remove citations which no longer pertain to occupational licenses due to historical legislative statutory changes; adjust timelines due to increased processing and evaluation time resulting from criminal history background checks required by HB 963 from the 81st Legislature, 2009; provide a uniform wait time between examinations for individuals who re-take a paper examination or a computer-based examination; clarify the validity period for examinations; incorporate a new training delivery method which utilizes current technology; establish a fee for review of this new training delivery method; provide consistency within the chapter by including a two-year validity period for licenses and registrations; and improve readability of rules by removing redundant wording and making non-substantive changes to grammar, punctuation, and organization.
The full proposal document is available here. The shorter executive summary with the key points is available at this link.