Justification for Administrative Rule Adoption

JUSTIFICATION FOR ADMINISTRATIVE RULE ADOPTION
Air Conditioning and Refrigeration
16 Texas Administrative Code, amendments to Chapter 75, §75.110

The Texas Commission of Licensing and Regulation (Commission) adopts amendments to an existing rule at 16 Texas Administrative Code (TAC), Chapter 75, §75.110, regarding the Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Program, with changes to the proposed text as published in the August 7, 2020 issue of the Texas Register (45 TexReg 5467).

EXPLANATION OF AND JUSTIFICATION FOR THE RULE

The rules under 16 TAC, Chapter 75, implement Texas Occupations Code, Chapter 1302, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Contractors.

The Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Contractor License Law, Tex. Occ. Code §1302.101(a), requires the Commission to adopt rules for the practice of air conditioning and refrigeration contracting that are at least as strict as the standards provided by the Uniform Mechanical Code and the International Mechanical Code. These codes define the standard of practice for air conditioning and refrigeration contracting and are used by Department staff to evaluate the mechanical integrity and proper installation and service of air conditioning and refrigeration systems. The proposed amendments are necessary to align the program's applicable codes with currently recognized national standards and to provide clarity and consistency for the Department's licensees.

The adopted rule updates the applicable code editions from 2015 to 2018 for the International Residential Code, International Mechanical Code, International Fuel Gas Code, and Uniform Mechanical Code, effective January 1, 2021. The proposed rule previously also included an adoption by reference of the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC), but the Advisory Board recommended removal of this reference at its October 20 meeting.

The adopted rule was presented to and discussed by the Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Contractors Advisory Board at its meeting on July 15, 2020. The Advisory Board did not make any changes to the proposed rule. The Advisory Board voted and recommended that the proposed rule be published in the Texas Register for public comment. At its October 20 meeting, the Advisory Board recommended adoption of the proposed rule with one change: namely, removing the reference to the IECC.

SECTION-BY-SECTION SUMMARY

The adopted rule amends §75.110(a) to adopt the 2018 editions of the International Residential Code, International Mechanical Code, International Fuel Gas Code, and Uniform Mechanical Code, effective January 1, 2021.

The adopted rule amends subsection (b) to state that the currently adopted code editions will remain in effect through December 31, 2020. Further, adopted subsection (b) states that air conditioning and refrigeration work permitted or begun before January 1, 2021 may be performed in accordance with the 2015 edition of the applicable codes.

The other adopted amendments remove outdated or unnecessary language from the rule.

As mentioned above, the adopted rule previously also included an adoption by reference of the IECC, but the Advisory Board recommended removal of this reference at its October 20 meeting. Because the State Energy Conservation Office has adopted the IECC statewide by rule (see 34 T.A.C. §19.53), it was unnecessary to include a reference to the IECC in the ACR rules.

PUBLIC COMMENTS

The Department drafted and distributed the proposed rule to persons internal and external to the agency. The proposed rule was published in the August 7, 2020, issue of the Texas Register (45 TexReg 5467). The deadline for public comments was September 7, 2020. The Department received a comment from one interested party on the proposed rule during the 30-day public comment period. The public comment is summarized below.

Comment--One commenter urged the department to adopt only the International Mechanical Code, and not the Uniform Mechanical Code.

Department Response --The department appreciates the comment. However, Section 1302.101 of the Occupations Code requires adoption of both codes; thus, this change cannot be made without a statutory amendment. The department did not make any changes to the proposed rule based on this comment.

ADVISORY BOARD RECOMMENDATIONS AND COMMISSION ACTION

The Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Contractors Advisory Board met on October 20, 2020, to discuss the proposed rule and the public comment received. The Advisory Board recommended that the Commission adopt the proposed rule as published in the Texas Register with one change, to remove reference of the IECC. Because the State Energy Conservation Office has adopted the IECC statewide by rule (see 34 T.A.C. §19.53), it was unnecessary to include a reference to the IECC in the ACR rules. At its meeting on December 8, 2020, the Commission adopted the proposed rule with changes as recommended by the Advisory Board.

STATUTORY AUTHORITY

The adopted rule is adopted under Texas Occupations Code, Chapters 51 and 1302, which authorize the Texas Commission of Licensing and Regulation, the Department’s governing body, to adopt rules as necessary to implement these chapters and any other law establishing a program regulated by the Department.

The statutory provisions affected by the adopted rule are those set forth in Texas Occupations Code, Chapters 51 and 1302. No other statutes, articles, or codes are affected by the adopted rule.

§75.110. Applicable Codes.

(a) Effective January 1, 2021, the commission adopts the following applicable codes as referenced in the Act and this chapter:

(1) 2018 International Residential Code;

(2) 2018 International Mechanical Code;

(3) 2018 International Fuel Gas Code; and

(4) 2018 Uniform Mechanical Code.

(b) The 2015 codes shall remain in effect through December 31, 2020. All air conditioning and refrigeration work permitted or started before January 1, 2021, may be completed in accordance with the 2015 code editions.

REVIEW BY AGENCY COUNSEL

The agency certifies that legal counsel has reviewed the adoption and found it to be a valid exercise of the agency’s legal authority.

Filed with the Office of the Secretary of State, on December 11, 2020.


Brad Bowman
General Counsel
Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation