Suburban Division Legislative Committee Materializes into Political Action Committee

Illinois is one of the few states that has not adopted a state electrical code and does not license electricians, contractors, or inspectors. Of particular concern to members of the Suburban Division, Illinois Chapter, is the ten-year continuing debate of a state code and licensing regulations with no action. Code adoption, licensing and enforcement are done on a local level. It is different from one town to another.

The Suburban Division has created a legislative committee, with the intent to maintain a balance of thirteen IAEI committee members with diverse qualifications to formulate unified representation to the state of Illinois legislators. The committee plans to review all proposed Illinois electrician licensing acts, compare the proposed acts to other similar licensing acts, and conduct an analysis, evaluating the proposal. The committee will then report their findings to the Illinois Suburban Division board members, with the intention for the report to be forwarded to the International office in Texas for potential national publication. Alliances with organizations such as NFPA, BOCA/ICC, NECA, IBEW, and builders associations will also be created to help actualize these goals.

One of the most recent and important acts of legislation for which the committee has introduced changes is Senate Bill 1880 (SB1880), the Electricians Licensing Act. SB1880 has been sponsored by: Senator Terry Link, majority caucus whip (D); Senator Don Harmon; Representative Eddie Washington; and Representative Kathleen A. Ryg. The bill that creates the electricians licensing act was filled with full text and later amended for a second version that was fourteen pages long. The active calendar orders a second reading in Senate with “do pass as amended” note attached. This bill is state statute #5ILCS 80/4.24, with inception on January 1, 2004.

The amended version of this bill currently provides for adoption of the National Electrical Code; a board of electrical examiners; and for enforcement of this bill to reside with the Illinois Department of Labor. The bill also provides (in the stipulated sections) certain requirements:

Electrical contractors. (section 25e) Bond and insurance requirements are to be determined by the state in lieu of all other to any political subdivision. Contractors must employ full time, or be, a licensed master electrician who shall be responsible for the performance of all electrical work. They must file state license with any political subdivision in which work is being done.

Examinations. (30) To receive an electrical license, each applicant must pass a written examination given by the department for the type of license sought. (65) Reciprocity — the department may issue “”same as”” licenses to electricians of other states. (40) All licenses expire annually, and renewal fees are to be issued only with certain exceptions—the fees have not yet been established.

Master electrician. (25a) The recipient must have a bachelor of science degree from an engineering program, one year of experience as a licensed journeyman electrician; five years experience planning, supervising, and installing wiring; or six years’ experience with electrical contracting company under the supervision of a licensed master electrician.

Journeyman electrician. (25b) The recipient shall have five years’ experience in wiring or an allowance of one-year experience along with completion of two years’ post high school electrical course.

Residential electrician. (25d) The recipient shall have four years’ experience in wiring and training, with an allowance of one-year experience plus completion of two years’ post high school electrical course.

Registered apprentice. (25c) A registered apprentice enrolled in an approved program may perform electrical work only under the supervision of a licensed electrician.

Electrical inspector. (95g) The recipient shall be a licensed master or journeyman electrician under this act. The act provides a 180-day application grandfathering for one year. Thereafter, the inspector must meet all requirements.

Individuals, who demonstrate requirements existing prior to January 1, 2004, and applying within 180 days, may be granted a license without examination and subject to annual renewal.

The Suburban Division has drafted a ten-page report with proposed changes for SB1880 that includes the existing language of the bill and proposed language by the committee that would make the bill acceptable to all constituents.

A few of the changes proposed by the committee include:

  • In section 10 of the bill, remove the words “”Department”” means the Illinois Department of Labor; and replace with “”Department”” means the Illinois Department of Professional Regulation. The proposed department should be responsible to administer the licensing act, as this department administers most other professional regulations and has the administrative process already in place to perform this additional duty.
  • Remove the clause in section 20 that requires for the Department of Labor to administer the examinations, and replace the clause with one that allows for coordination and uniform examinations to be administered by an independent third party testing organization.
  • Inserting a clause in section 42 that requires proof of four hours of NEC-related continuing education courses as a prerequisite for license renewal.
  • In section 90, the bill should make the inspector qualifications be consistent with Section 80.27 of the NEC.

Immediate information may be found Search by Senate Bill 1880 or keyword: electricians licensing act.

Barbara Grady
Barbara Grady, International Association of Electrical Inspectors Suburban Division, Illinois Chapter, first vice chairman and legislative committee chairman.