Proposed Administrative Rules

Chapter 75. Air Conditioning and Refrigeration
Proposal Filed: July 27, 2020 – Published in the Texas Register: August 7, 2020
Deadline for Public Comment: September 7, 2020

Underlined text is new language.

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The Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (Department) proposes amendments to an existing rule at 16 Texas Administrative Code (TAC), Chapter 75, §75.110, regarding the Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Program. These proposed changes are referred to as the “proposed rule.”

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 proposed 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. The proposed rule also adopts by reference the edition of the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) adopted by the State Energy Conservation Office pursuant to Chapter 388 of the Texas Health and Safety Code and 34 T.A.C. §19.53. As of the time of this writing, the State Energy Conservation Office has adopted the 2015 edition of the IECC.

The proposed 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.

SECTION-BY-SECTION SUMMARY

The proposed 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. Proposed §75.110(a) also adopts the edition of the IECC adopted by the State Energy Conservation Office pursuant to Chapter 388 of the Texas Health and Safety Code.

The proposed rule amends subsection (b) to state that the currently adopted code editions will remain in effect through December 31, 2020. Further, proposed 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 proposed amendments remove outdated or unnecessary language from the rule.

FISCAL IMPACT ON STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT

Tony Couvillon, Policy Research and Budget Analyst, has determined that for each year of the first five years the proposed rule is in effect, there are no estimated additional costs or reductions in costs to state or local government as a result of enforcing or administering the proposed rule.

Mr. Couvillon has determined that for each year of the first five years the proposed rule is in effect, there is no estimated increase or loss in revenue to the state or local government as a result of enforcing or administering the proposed rule.

LOCAL EMPLOYMENT IMPACT STATEMENT

Mr. Couvillon has determined that the proposed rule will not affect the local economy, so the agency is not required to prepare a local employment impact statement under Government Code §2001.022.

PUBLIC BENEFITS

Mr. Couvillon has also determined that for each year of the first five-year period the proposed rule is in effect, the public benefit will be consistency in the health and safety, installation, and maintenance requirements for air conditioning and refrigeration work performed in Texas.

PROBABLE ECONOMIC COSTS TO PERSONS REQUIRED TO COMPLY WITH PROPOSAL

Mr. Couvillon has determined that for each year of the first five-year period the proposed rule is in effect, there may be some economic costs to persons, including small or micro-businesses, required to comply with the proposed rule. However, adoption of the updated codes may also result in cost savings for licensees and customers. The Department is unable to provide an estimate of costs or cost savings attributable to the updated codes, as those costs or cost savings will be determined by the market for air conditioning and refrigeration services.

FISCAL IMPACT ON SMALL BUSINESSES, MICRO-BUSINESSES, AND RURAL COMMUNITIES

There will be no adverse economic effect on small businesses, micro-businesses, or rural communities as a result of the proposed rule. Since the agency has determined that the proposed rule will have no adverse economic effect on small businesses, micro-businesses, or rural communities, preparation of an Economic Impact Statement and a Regulatory Flexibility Analysis, as detailed under Texas Government Code §2006.002, is not required.

ONE-FOR-ONE REQUIREMENT FOR RULES WITH A FISCAL IMPACT

The proposed rule does not have a fiscal note that imposes a cost on regulated persons, including another state agency, a special district, or a local government. Therefore, the agency is not required to take any further action under Government Code §2001.0045.

GOVERNMENT GROWTH IMPACT STATEMENT

Pursuant to Government Code §2001.0221, the agency provides the following Government Growth Impact Statement for the proposed rule. For each year of the first five years the proposed rule will be in effect, the agency has determined the following:

1. The proposed rule does not create or eliminate a government program.

2. Implementation of the proposed rule does not require the creation of new employee positions or the elimination of existing employee positions.

3. Implementation of the proposed rule does not require an increase or decrease in future legislative appropriations to the agency.

4. The proposed rule does not require an increase or decrease in fees paid to the agency.

5. The proposed rule does not create a new regulation.

6. The proposed rule does not expand, limit, or repeal an existing regulation.

7. The proposed rule does not increase or decrease the number of individuals subject to the rule's applicability.

8. The proposed rule does not positively or adversely affect this state's economy.

TAKINGS IMPACT ASSESSMENT

The Department has determined that no private real property interests are affected by the proposed rule and the proposed rule does not restrict, limit, or impose a burden on an owner’s rights to his or her private real property that would otherwise exist in the absence of government action. As a result, the proposed rule does not constitute a taking or require a takings impact assessment under Government Code §2007.043.

PUBLIC COMMENTS

Comments on the proposed rule may be submitted electronically on the Department’s website; by facsimile to (512) 475-3032; or by mail to Monica Nuñez, Legal Assistant, Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation, P.O. Box 12157, Austin, Texas 78711. The deadline for comments is 30 days after publication in the Texas Register.

STATUTORY AUTHORITY

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

(4) 2018 Uniform Mechanical Code; and

(5) the edition of the International Energy Conservation Code adopted by the State Energy Conservation Office pursuant to Chapter 388 of the Texas Health and Safety Code .

[ (a) The commission adopts the following as the applicable codes as referenced in the Act and this chapter: ]

[ (1) 2012 edition of the Uniform Mechanical Code; and ]

[ (2) 2012 editions of the International Mechanical Code, the International Residential Code, and other applicable codes. ]

(b) The 2015 [ 2012 ] codes shall remain in effect through December 31, 2020 [ 2017 ]. All air conditioning and refrigeration work permitted or started before January 1, 2021 [ 2018 ], may be completed in accordance with the 2015 [ 2012 ] code editions.

[ (c) The commission adopts the following as the applicable codes as referenced in the Act and this chapter: ]

[ (1) 2015 edition of the Uniform Mechanical Code; and ]

[ (2) 2015 editions of the International Mechanical Code, the International Residential Code, and other applicable codes. ]

[ (d) The 2015 codes shall be effective January 1, 2018. ]

REVIEW BY AGENCY COUNSEL

The agency certifies that legal counsel has reviewed the proposal and found it to be within the state agency’s legal authority to adopt.

Filed with the Office of the Secretary of State, on July 27, 2020.

Brad Bowman
General Counsel
Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation