SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Illinois irrigation contractors are fighting the repeal of a law that would require them to obtain a plumbing license. If repealed, every person on an irrigation job site, whether they are digging, maintaining, installing, designing or supervising, would need to be a licensed plumber or a licensed apprentice plumber.
Unless acted upon by legislators, the repeal of the Irrigation Registration Law will automatically go into effect Jan. 1, 2013.
“Less than 1 percent of the irrigation contractors in Illinois are licensed plumbers employing only licensed plumbers,” said Dean Goodenough, president of Illinois Green Industry Association.
Since the mid-90s irrigation contractors have been able to operate without a plumbing license, Goodenough said. If repealed, though, the law will send the state’s irrigation industry in a flux.
“The bulk of the contractors in the state are small mom and pop organizations and it will basically put those people out of business,” he said.
To become a licensed plumber in Illinois, one needs to be sponsored by a licensed plumber and complete a four-year apprenticeship before taking the test to get licensed, Goodenough said. Once the law is repealed, those operating without a plumbing license can be kicked off of a job site and individually fined $5,000.
“There is a strong possibility that the law will be repealed due to lack of contractor input,” Goodenough said. “A recent bill to eliminate upgrading backflow devices to RPZs failed due to lack of contractor support.”
Because the current law for irrigation contractors to be registered with the state is not highly enforced, Goodenough says contractors don’t think the repeal of the law is a big deal. But Goodenough points to the recent bill that failed and the fact that because of state budget cuts, if the law is repealed, irrigation contractors would be lumped in with plumbing contractors, thus one more state program could be cut.
The Illinois Green Industry Association is asking contractors to contact their state representatives and senators to support the law that is already in place. Money can also be donated to IGIA. The money will be used to hire a temporary lobbyist or given to support representatives or communication about the cause.
IGIA will also hold meetings at Mid-America Horticultural Trade Show to share more information about the law. The meetings will take place Jan. 18 from 8:30-10 a.m. and from 1 -2:30 p.m. For more information or to contribute to the cause, visit www.ina-online.org or call (217) 525-6222.