New Law Delays the Effective Date of the New Wisconsin Electrical License Statute
With the stroke of Wisconsin Governor Walker's pen on March 12, 2013, a new electrical licensing law, which had wide-spread impact in the facility, sign and lighting industries, was delayed. The effective date of Section 101.862 of the Wisconsin Statutes, which imposes new electrical licensing requirements on "any installation, repair or maintenance of electrical wiring," was amended to delay the effective date to April 1, 2014 - not April 1, 2013. A brief summary of the new licensing requirements was originally discussed in the von Briesen & Roper, s.c. Construction Law Update – January 2013. This January Construction Law Update was widely circulated to the affected industries: building owners, property managers, sign industry, lighting maintenance and installers. It was clear from the inquiries our law firm received, that many of the affected businesses were unaware that this law, which was passed back in 2008 to allow businesses to prepare, had sweeping requirements to have licensed electricians undertake routine tasks like replacing fluorescent and lighting ballasts/transformers, which currently were being performed by maintenance/service level workers.
The amendment to delay Section 101.862 was introduced this February by Representative Knodl and cosponsored by Senator Grothman who received many calls and emails to delay the the effective date of the new electrical licensing requirements. The legislative motivation to postpone the expanded licensing law for electricians by twelve months, rather than six months, demonstrates the legislature's understanding of the struggle and debate of the affected industries, who will lobby for changes.
A warning is in order with this brief reprieve. Property managers, facility owners and the sign and lighting industry should avoid any false sense of security this one-year delay may provide, since it is ironic the law was originally passed in 2008 and effective in 2013 to provide five years of preparation – but was heeded by few. The next twelve months will race by and require both legal revisions to the law and then have the affected industries get prepared. Given the broad scope of the new licensing regulations and the penalties for non-compliance, it would behoove those affected, to closely follow the revisions and take preparatory steps toward understanding their compliance obligations. It has been reported that Representative Tom Larson will be working on the trailer legislation to craft solutions and may be contacted at Rep.Larson@legis.wisconsin.gov or (888) 534-0067. The present law has thirteen carve-outs or exceptions to the new electrical licensing requirement, such as: low-voltage, elevator/escalator wiring, utility wiring, traffic signal wiring, security/alarm wiring, etc. It is likely that these carve-outs could be expanded or perhaps a new licensed status is created, i.e., "licensed lighting technician," as possible revisions to address the concerns. Stay tuned.