No More Schools for Plumbers?

The Texas Sunset Advisory Commission recently decided to drop the high school diploma/GED requirements for a journeyman plumber’s license. 

When consumers call a plumber, typically a journeyman is the one who comes out to fix the pipes. Sometimes a plumber’s apprentice also comes out. So this rule change affects everyone.

Despite dropping the requirement for a high school diploma, Texas still requires applicants to have 8,000 hours of experience under the supervision of a master plumber before they can sit for the journeyman plumber exam. 

Journeymen can tackle most plumbing jobs, including those involving natural gas lines. Because a plumbers’ job description covers anything involving pipes, they install, test and certify gas lines before the gas company turns on the fuel. 

As homes and businesses have become increasingly more high tech and complex, some plumbers have raised concerns that reducing educational requirements could negatively impact the future of plumbing and the profession’s reputation.

“What this will create is a path to prison,” said Jeff LaBroski, a member of Plumbers Local 68, the union for the Texas Gulf Coast. LaBroski was discussing the education requirements at a recent meeting of the licensing board. 

He rhetorically asked the members of the board why someone would pursue a high school diploma or GED when they could just “drop out and become a plumber’s apprentice.”

“I think it’s something that the board should reconsider and put back into the rules,” LaBroski said. 

This rule change, while not in statute, is another development in the rollercoaster the Texas State Board of Plumbing Examiners is riding this year.
At the end of the past legislative session, there was a dustup with extending the life of the licensing board leading to an impending abolition of the board. The plumbers rallied and then, Gov. Abbott extended the board for another two years by executive order.

Fighting Fertility Fraud

In its most recent session the Texas Legislature voted to delcare fertility fraud a form of sexual assault. 

Senate Bill 1259, effective Sept. 1, will make it a felony for a healthcare professional to inseminate a patient with reproductive material from an unauthorized donor. Offenders could receive up to two years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000. 

Eve Wiley championed the bill. Wiley, a licensed professional counselor from Dallas, recently discovered her biological father was in fact her mother’s fertility doctor, rather than a California sperm donor as she had been led to believe. 

The doctor, Kim McMorries of Nacogdoches, Texas, decided to mix his sperm with donor sperm during the insemination process. 

Wiley’s mother, Margo Williams, claims she told McMorries she didn’t want a ‘local donation.’ Although, McMorries alleges she agreed to local donation, he concedes that Williams never agreed to using his sperm. 

The idea of the “daddy doctor” has gained national attention recently as states respond to pressure from advocacy groups and lawsuits demanding an end to what has come to be known as “fertility fraud.” 

The issue of fertility fraud came to a head earlier this year when Indiana legislators began debating Senate Enrolled Act 174, which makes fertility fraud a felony punishable by up to two and a half years in prison. 

Fertility fraud became a concern in Indiana after at-home DNA tests revealed that Dr. Donald Cline had fathered more than 50 of his patients’ children.

Dove Fox, director of the University of San Diego’s Center for Health Law Policy and Bioethics, predicts that cases like Cline’s are “just the tip of the iceberg.” 

In an interview with Stateline, Fox described fertility treatments from 1970-1990 as so unregulated that the effects are shocking.

Although Texas’ new law protects women from surreptitious insemination in the future, but anyone who was wrongly impregnated in the past will not be able to seek justice.