The Louisiana Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors, the United Association and the Mechanical Contractors Association of Louisiana helped to successfully defeat legislation that would have reduced licensing standards to meet a demand for post-hurricane workers.

House Bill 601 would have changed Louisiana’s plumbing code to lessen requirements to obtain a master plumber’s license.

The bill, supported by general contractors and homebuilders, would have shifted oversight duties from the Louisiana Plumbing Board to the state Licensing Board for Contractors. It also would have adopted the International Plumbing Code as the State Sanitary and State Plumbing Code. It failed on a 14-4 vote.

“This bill would have lessened the skill level of the master plumber and journeyman, and would have been a giant step back to the way Louisiana was in the early-1920s, when there were bad sanitary conditions and diseases,” said PHCC-National Association President-elect Jim Finley, who is chairman of the Louisiana Plumbing Board. “The general contractors said the bill would ‘provide more boots on the ground with plumbers in them,’ but professional plumbers don’t want just anyone filling those boots.”

HB 601’s plumbing industry coalition presentation team was Ken Gootee (MCA of Louisiana president), Harold Heidingsfelder (Contractors Board Former Member Alumni Against HB 601), Trey Blackall (PHCC of Louisiana), Louis Reine (AFL-CIO) and Lance Albin (UA State Pipe Trades Association).

The coalition used direct mail and announcements on to update their members on the issue, as well as to help gather people for a rally at the state capitol while the bill was being debated. According to MCA of Louisiana Executive Director Henry G. Heier, "State capitol security estimated some 700 people at the state capitol building for HB 601. The UA State Pipe Trades Association (made up of Local 60 and other UA locals around the state) handed out 550 bright lime VOTE NO T-shirts until they ran out about two hours before the hearing started."

While the bill was defeated, local plumbers are still worried that the issue could get added to another bill during the current legislative session. Just days after the bill's defeat, State Rep. Diane Winston, author of HB 601, tried to amend HB 486 with "The Sons of HB 601 Amendments." That measure was defeated by the full House in a vote of 83 to 13.

The coalition will continue updating the Web site with any new developments.