On The Level: July 2021

On The Level new

Vol. 5     |  July 2021

A Note From Brian Francis: A Review of the 2021 Legislative Session

Brian Francis color

Welcome to the fourth edition of TDLR On the Level, TDLR’s newsletter for our building trades community. In our July 2020 edition, I reported to you on the progress of TDLR’s Sunset review, which was then still underway.

Since that time, the Sunset Advisory Commission issued their report which contained recommendations for the future of TDLR, and those recommendations became legislation: House Bill 1560, 87th Legislature, authored by Representative Craig Goldman of Fort Worth and sponsored by Senator Dawn Buckingham of Lakeway. I am now pleased to report that HB 1560 was passed by the 87th Legislature and signed into law by Governor Greg Abbott on June 15, 2021.

What does this mean for the agency and for you? For starters, it means the agency is continued until 2033, when we will undergo our next Sunset review. One of the biggest changes to impact the building trades community: TDLR is now able to form interdisciplinary advisory boards so that we can coordinate the expertise and input from similar industries.

For example: imagine how great it would be if we could bring together members of the Air Conditioning & Refrigeration Contractors Advisory Board with the members of the Electrical Safety Advisory Board in a public meeting to discuss the impact of future code changes? Or the members of our Texas Industrialized Building Code Council, Architectural Barriers Advisory Committee, and Code Enforcement Officers Advisory Committee? Thanks to HB 1560, this kind of common-sense efficiency and practicality will now be possible, and we fully intend to move forward with interdisciplinary boards.

In addition, HB 1560 allows us to continue to hold advisory board meetings via videoconference if the board wishes to do so – something we’ve proven during COVID-19 can happen without any detriment to public input or transparency. In fact, we think it allows for more public input and participation, especially for those Texans in rural areas, or just a long way from Austin. And TDLR will now be allowed to call advisory boards to meet on an as-needed basis when there is work to be done, rather than because the calendar says the board is required to meet – those statutory requirements to hold meetings were removed by HB 1560.

Another change I’m excited about: our Enforcement division will now be able to prioritize complaints based on the risk the pose to the public. We think this will make our complaint system much more effective and hopefully lead to greater participation from industry and the public.

There’s much, much more in HB 1560 that will be bring big changes to other areas of TDLR, but for our building trades community, this legislative session was relatively quiet.  There were no other major bills impacting our building trades programs – something I’m sure we all can appreciate for a change!

Please be on the lookout in the weeks and months ahead for emails from TDLR about upcoming advisory board meetings, stakeholder summits, and information on rule and program updates. There’s a lot of work ahead for TDLR and Texas in 2021 and beyond, and I am excited to see where we go together.

Yours in Service,

Brian E. Francis, Executive Director

Sign Up for Email Updates for Your License Type

women and laptop

Now that you've heard about some of the legislation that passed this session, we have this question for you: Do you receive email updates from TDLR about your licensing program? If not, be sure to sign up today so you don't miss important information (like new laws) that could affect your license. 

Have co-workers, employees or friends who are licensed by TDLR? Make sure they're signed up, too. 

Electricians: Commission Adopts 2020 National Electrical Code, Delays Implementation of Section 210.8(F)


The Texas Commission of Licensing and Regulation adopted the 2020 National Electrical Code (NEC) as the electrical code for the state of Texas as of Nov. 2, 2020.

However, in May 2021, the Commission voted to delay the effective date of section 210.8(F) until Jan. 1, 2023, because compliance with that section poses an imminent threat to public health and safety by interfering with the proper functioning of certain types of air conditioning and heating systems. 

William Weatherly, TDLR Program Chief and Chief Inspector for Air Conditioning and Refrigeration, said that adding GFCI protection to air conditioning and heat pump equipment that uses DC Inverter technology -- as required by the 2020 NEC -- can cause repeated tripping of the circuit protection, making the systems effectively inoperable.

What does Section 210.8(F) of the 2020 NEC do?

Section 210.8(F) of the 2020 NEC requires that certain outdoor outlets for dwellings supplied by single-phase branch circuits rated 150 volts to ground or less, 50 amperes or less, have ground-fault circuit-interrupter (GFCI) protection. The emergency rules adopted by the Commission would remove this requirement until January 1, 2023.

Why is this change being made?

There have been widespread reports of certain types of air conditioning units connected to a GFCI device not being compatible with the GFCI protection, which causes the GFCI device to trip. This incompatibility poses a substantial risk to the health and safety of all Texans who rely on air conditioning, especially during the summer months.

What does this change mean for electricians and air conditioning and refrigeration contractors?

Beginning May 20, 2021, neither electrical contractors nor air conditioning and refrigeration contractors are required to comply with the requirement of Section 210.8(F) of GFCI protection for certain outdoor outlets until January 1, 2023.

A code-compliant installation, with emphasis on a proper bonding of the equipment to the equipment grounding conductor and to the electrical grounding system, will ensure electrical safety for fault conditions, even when terminated to a normal overcurrent protection device.

More on the 2020 NEC

The 2020 NEC is the "minimum standard" for all electrical work in Texas covered by the Texas Electrical Safety and Licensing Act

Chapter 1305.201 of the Act gives municipalities the authority to make local amendments to the 2020 NEC; however, any proposal to amend these standards should be done in accordance with NEC 90.4, which stipulates "the authority having jurisdiction may waive specific requirements in this Code or permit alternative methods where it is assured that equivalent objectives can be achieved by establishing and maintaining effective safety."

Any non-exempt electrical work -- other than the exemption listed above -- started on or after November 1, 2020 must be installed in accordance with the 2020 NEC.

To clarify: the “start” of electrical work is the day the electrician begins installing electrical materials or equipment within the residential or commercial building structure. Inside the corporate limits of a municipality, the start date is the permit date. Electricians must abide by city permitting requirements and adhere to any state code amendments by the municipality.

As of Nov. 1, 2020, all licensing examinations for Texas electrical licenses are based on the 2020 NEC. Texas electrical licensing exams are available through PSI, the testing vendor selected by TDLR to develop, maintain and administer the examinations.

Licensing candidates should carefully review the Candidate Information Bulletin (CIB) for detailed and helpful information regarding the examinations