Phillip Diserio, chairman of the House Government’s Organizing Committee, speaks out against efforts to reduce the number of hours required to obtain certain contractor licenses. (Photo provided)

CHARLESTON – The House of Delegates passed another law on Monday to ease the path to obtaining certain professional licenses.

House Bill 2008 – Amendment to Licensing Requirements for Technicians, Electricians and Installers of Elevator Mechanics, Heating, Ventilation and Cooling Systems (HVAC) – passed 61-37. The bill will go to the Senate next.

HB 2008 would reduce the hours or years of experience required to obtain a license to practice these trades and ease other requirements and restrictions to bring them in line with surrounding states. It also removes military veterans to get HVAC technician licenses with exam.

“The purpose … is to change the hours of the licenses … to encourage professionals in those professions to live and work in West Virginia.” said Vice Chairman of the House Government Organizing Committee Geoff Foster, R-Putnam. “The bill brings some requirements in line with surrounding states to make states more competitive within available talent pools.”

The bill complements the 2007 housekeeping accounts that created the General Recognition of Professional Permits Act, which was passed in House last week. HB 2007 would require West Virginia professional licensing authorities to issue licenses to persons with valid licenses from other states who have held those licenses for more than a year and whose licenses are in good standing in the state where they originate.

Another law, House Bill 2006, removed the West Virginia Contractor Licensing Board from the division of labor and placed it in the same section of code as the professional licensing bodies in Chapter 30.

Phillip Diserio, Chairman of the Organizing Committee of the Minority House of Representatives, D-Brooke, was dissatisfied with the bill. Diserio, a retired electrician and union member, said he opposed efforts by House Republicans to meddle on professional approval bodies.

“I don’t want anyone to think that their job is less than that of others”. Said Diserio. “I told you the other day that you exceeded your limits.”

Diserio criticized the Republicans for promoting and amending these bills to cut certain professions. HB 2008 was changed last week to remove crane operators from the bill. HB 2007 was changed to remove certain medical licensing agencies and private investigators.

“It is bad for West Virgins who pay taxes and for their safety” Said Diserio. “Do it for one or all, but you are not down here to represent the leadership of the (Republican House), you are down here to represent the electorate and I am asking you to vote the bill.”

According to Foster, when it comes to the current licensing system, advocates of the status quo were trying to control the workforce rather than trying to create jobs. According to Foster, the current number of hours to obtain a plumbing license is more than required before flying an airliner.

“You have become a kind of protective mentality” Said Foster. “What we have to do is encourage … people to get into this state, and people in that state to have jobs.”

Steven Allen Adams can be reached at sadams@newsandsentinel.com

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