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AGLO 1975 No. 48 - May 06, 1975
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Slade Gorton | 1969-1980 | Attorney General of Washington

LICENSES ‑- PLUMBERS ‑- LOCAL ENFORCEMENT OF JOURNEYMEN PLUMBERS' LICENSING ACT

Local responsibility for enforcement of chapter 175, Laws of 1973, 1st Ex. Sess., providing for the licensing of journeymen plumbers, rests with the prosecuting attorney of the county in which the violation occurred insofar as a criminal action under RCW 18.106.160 is concerned.

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                                                                    May 6, 1975

Honorable Pat Cochrane
State Representative, District 8
Legislative Building
Olympia, Washington 98504                                                                                                               Cite as:  AGLO 1975 No. 48

Dear Sir:

            By recent letter you have requested our opinion relative to the enforcement of what you have referred to as the "plumbers journeyman license act," chapter 175, Laws of 1973, 1st Ex. Sess., now codified as chapter 18.106 RCW.  Specifically you have asked how this act is to be enforced at the local governmental level.

            We respond to your inquiry in the manner set forth in our analysis below.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            By its enactment of chapter 175, Laws of 1973, 1st Ex. Sess., the legislature provided for a system of licensing journeymen or apprentice plumbers.  As defined in RCW 18.106.010(5), a "journeyman plumber" is:

            ". . . any person who has been issued a certificate of competency by the department of labor and industries as provided in this chapter;"

            The term "apprentice plumber" is defined by subsection (2) of this same statute to mean:

            ". . . any person engaged in learning the trade of plumbing and who, under the supervision of a journeyman plumber, performs the actual work necessary to assemble, construct, install, repair, or modify plumbing;"

            RCW 18.106.020 then provides:

            "(1)  No person shall engage in the business or trade of plumbing as a journeyman without having a current certificate of competency issued by the department in  [[Orig. Op. Page 2]] accordance with the provisions of this chapter.

            "(2) No person shall engage in the business or trade of plumbing as an apprentice without having a current apprentice permit issued by the department in accordance with the provisions of this chapter."

            The process of certification or licensure under the act involves both the state department of labor and industries, see, RCW 18.106.030-18.106.050 and 18.106.070-18.106.100, and local enforcement agencies ‑ a term defined by RCW 18.106.010(7) to mean:

            ". . . any local governmental agency involved in the enforcement of plumbing codes and the issuance of journeyman plumbers' licenses."

            However, such agencies do not themselves have any direct enforcement powers under the act.  Administrative revocation of a certificate of competency is exclusively a function of the department of labor and industries under RCW 18.106.100.  Accordingly, the only local enforcement functions insofar as violations of the act are concerned are those involved in pursuing criminal remedies.

            RCW 18.106.160 provides that:

            "Violation of this chapter or of the department rules and regulations provided for in this chapter by a person, firm, or corporation, shall be punishable by a fine of not more than fifty dollars.  Each day of such violation constitutes a separate offense."

            Accordingly, a violation of the subject law is a misdemeanor.  See, RCW 9.01.020 which reads as follows:

            "A crime is an act or omission forbidden by law and punishable upon conviction by death, imprisonment, fine or other penal discipline.  Every crime which may be punishable by death or by imprisonment in the state penitentiary is a felony.  Every crime punishable by a fine of not more than two hundred and fifty dollars, or by imprisonment in a county jail for not more than ninety days, is a misdemeanor.  Every other crime is a gross misdemeanor."

             [[Orig. Op. Page 3]]   This means that the local responsibility for enforcement, insofar as a criminal action under RCW 18.106.160 is concerned, rests with the prosecuting attorney of the county in which the violation occurred.  Accord, RCW 36.27.020(4) which states:

            "The prosecuting attorney shall:

            ". . .

            "(4)  Prosecute all criminal and civil actions in which the state or his county may be a party, defend all suits brought against the state or his county, and prosecute actions upon forfeited recognizances and bonds and actions for the recovery of debts, fines, penalties, and forfeitures accruing to the state or his county;"

            Because the crime in question is a state offense, however, as opposed to a municipal offense arising from a violation of a city ordinance or the like, it would not appear to us that the city attorney of a given city would have any prosecutory responsibility with respect to the matter.

            We trust that the foregoing will be of some assistance to you.

Very truly yours,

SLADE GORTON
Attorney General

PHILIP H. AUSTIN
Deputy Attorney General

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