On November 18, 2016, new regulation changes went into effect. These changes were made throughout nine different chapters of the Board’s regulations. The purpose of these frequently asked questions is to assist licensees and the public in understanding these changes. This is an advisory only, readers should refer to the actual regulations themselves as any unintended conflict between this FAQ and the regulations must be resolved in favor of the regulations.

 

GENERAL QUESTIONS

1. What exactly has changed in the regulations?

A: In compliance with the Governor’s Executive Order 562, the Board reviewed its regulations to simplify them and, where appropriate, to repeal unnecessary or outdated requirements. The following is a brief summary of the changes:

  • 237 CMR 12.00 – DEFINITIONS:
    Definitions were added to business and education sections, while removing other unused definitions.
  • 237 CMR 13.00 – ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA FOR INITIAL LICENSURE
    This chapter was amended to increase credit given to applicants applying systems qualifications to obtain an electrical license and vice versa. In addition, guidelines were added for vocational education and applicants with out of state credentials.
  • 237 CMR 14.00 – EXAMINATIONS FOR LICENSURE
    This chapter was amended to 1) give applicants more time to pass the exam if their education was expiring, 2) help applicants who failed the examination multiple times qualify for future attempts, and 3) remove unused/unenforceable tracking requirements for utility employees.
  • 237 CMR 16.00 – BUSINESS AND OTHER LICENSURE PROCEDURES
    This chapter was amended to give businesses their very own licenses as well as to create new rules for changes of master licensees/systems contractors.
  • 237 CMR 17.00 – MANDATORY CONTINUING EDUCATION
    This chapter was amended to clarify continuing education requirements as well as to simplify the rules for reinstating a lapsed license.
  • 237 CMR 18.00 – RULES GOVERNING PRACTICE
    This chapter was amended to clarify the role of systems technicians as well as to eliminate unnecessary requirements imposed on education providers.
  • 237 CMR 19.00 – ADJUDICATORY PROCEEDINGS
    This chapter was unnecessary, all its provisions existed in other laws and regulations, so it was repealed.
  • 237 CMR 20.00 – INSPECTORS OF WIRES
    This chapter was unnecessary, all its provisions existed in other laws and regulations, so it was repealed.
  • 237 CMR 21.00 – BOARD OF ELECTRICIANS’ APPEALS
    This chapter was unnecessary, all its provisions existed in other laws and regulations, so it was repealed.

2. I didn’t realize the regulations were changing, how did this happen?

A: While the Board and its subcommittees have been working on regulation changes for several years, the current changes were precipitated by Executive Order 562, which was issued by Governor Baker on March 31, 2015. This Executive Order mandated a review of every regulation in Massachusetts to ensure they are “either mandated by law or essential to the health, safety, environment or welfare of the Commonwealth's residents.” The Board commenced this review with a special meeting to obtain public input on June 22, 2015. The Board took the results of that meeting, along with its prior work, to craft the current regulation changes. The public was then invited to provide testimony about these changes at a public hearing held on August 22, 2016. The Board then finalized the changes at its next meeting.

3. I had suggestions for future changes, but I understand the Board wasn’t accepting changes at the public hearing, how may I be heard?

A: As noted, the Board held a public forum in 2015 to obtain public input as to any possible changes to the regulations. The hearing on August 22, 2016 was limited, by law, to those changes voted on by the Board that were filed with the Secretary of State. Now that the process has concluded, the Board may hold another public forum in the near future. However, regardless when such a forum gets scheduled, the public is welcome to submit written suggestions to the Board at any time by mailing them to the Board office.

QUESTIONS REGARDING 237 CMR 13.00

4. Aren’t systems and electrical education and work experience interchangeable?

A: No, systems are a subset of electrical work only, so while a journeyman electrician is qualified to perform systems work, a systems technician is not qualified to perform non-systems electrical work. However, for applicants wishing to apply electrical education or work experience towards a systems license (or vice versa), the Board has increased the amount of credit it will grant as follows:

OLD Regulations

CREDIT GRANTED BY LICENSE

LICENSE SOUGHTEDUCATIONWORK EXPERIENCE
   
Journeyman ElectricianUp to 150 hours in systems courses can be creditedUp to 2000 Systems work experience hours can be credited.
Systems TechnicianUp to 75 hours in electrical courses can be creditedUp to 1000 Electrical work experience hours can be credited.

NEW Regulations

CREDIT GRANTED BY LICENSE

LICENSEEDUCATIONWORK EXPERIENCE
   
Journeyman ElectricianUp to 300 hours in systems courses can be creditedUp to 4000 Systems work experience hours can be credited.
Systems TechnicianUp to 75 hours in electrical courses can be credited (no change)Up to 2000 Electrical work experience hours can be credited.

5. Did the Board reduce the amount of credit given for vocational education?

A: No. Several years ago, the Board, working closely with the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, crafted a policy where vocational high school students could earn up to 300 hours of education before graduation. Those students could also, by engaging in “shop time,” accrue work experience while still in school. The cap in educational hours was put in place, in part, to ensure students got both kinds of experience in school while also providing a level of uniformity throughout Massachusetts. The regulations now explicitly mirror that policy, no change has taken place.

6. I have education and work experience from out of Massachusetts, will the Board still give me credit towards a Massachusetts license?

A: Yes, this has not changed. The regulations previously indicated that credit would be granted from other states that is substantially equivalent to Massachusetts, but did not outline the specific information needed by the Board to make that determination. Now the regulations outline specific information required, such as educational transcripts and employer documentation, which the Board needs to make a fair and consistent decision when reviewing out of state credentials.

QUESTIONS REGARDING 237 CMR 14.00

7. Has the Board changed the rules saying education and work experience will expire?

A: In general no, however based on public feedback, the Board is continuing to research making changes in the future. One change was made in this regulation review. Previously, if the Board approves an application for examination, the applicant will have one year to pass the examination unless, during that year, their education and/or work experience expires. Now, applicants will have the full year to pass the examination even if their education and/or work experience expires during that year, so long as they are approved prior to the expiration date.

8. I have failed the examination multiple times, what happens now?

A: If you have failed the examination three times, you are not permitted to take the examination again until you are able to document for the Board that you have reviewed your deficiencies with a provider. If you fail the examination six times, you must retake all your education.

QUESTIONS REGARDING 237 CMR 16.00

9. I have surrendered my license to a business, does this regulation change impact me?

A: Right now, it does not. However, sometime between now and November 20, 2017, your business will need its own, separate license. You will then be reissued your master electrician or systems contractor license back in your name. You will be given further information once the Board establishes procedures for this new licensing procedure.

10. If a business’ master quits, does the business need to shut down until it gets a new master?

A: No, the regulations now contain provisions to allow businesses to continue during transitional periods until they get a new master. Note that this transition is only allowed if certain procedural requirements are met, such as notifying the Board and any local inspectors of wires for ongoing work.

11. May a master be associated with multiple businesses?

A: Yes, however, the master may be required to produce evidence that he/she is capable of performing the supervisory duties necessary to ensure all the businesses are compliant with Massachusetts law and Board regulations. Note that this only applies to businesses that get their own licenses; masters are reminded that they can only use a “DBA” if the name of the DBA is on their license. Due to space limitations, there is room for only one DBA on a license.

12. If a business is the subject of a licensing complaint, can it avoid any prosecutions by simply changing master licensees?

A: No, the Board has the power to discipline both a business and its master licensee together or separately. In addition, the Board has the power to restrict or place conditions on future master licensees to ensure wrongful conduct by a business is not repeated.

QUESTIONS REGARDING 237 CMR 17.00

13. I am an Inspector of Wires, do I still need to do additional continuing education?

A: Yes, this requirement has not changed, however, a typo in the regulations has been fixed. Inspectors of wires must complete six hours of specific inspector education each licensing cycle. In addition, inspectors are reminded that they must complete their 15 hour code course within the first year of a new electrical code (the next code is anticipated to go into effect Jan. 1, 2017).

14. I can get a doctor’s note saying I can’t go to a continuing education class, is that enough for a waiver?

A: No, the Board will not grant waivers solely based on a claim that you can’t attend a class. You must also be able to document that you are unable to work. Note that Board waivers will not excuse getting the continuing education indefinitely, the Board only waives the deadline, not the requirement itself.

15. I didn’t do my continuing education prior to my license expiring, what do I need to do to renew?

A: The Board has eliminated “penalty” CE, however, the procedure for renewal changes depending on how long it has been since your license expired:

If less than 90 days - Renewal allowed by paying fees with evidence of CE (21 hours);

Between 90 days and 3 years – Renewal allowed by paying fees, reinstatement application with CORI check, documentation of employment, and evidence of CE (21 hours); and

More than 3 years – Renewal allowed after passage of highest level license exam and evidence of CE (21 hours).

16. Since my provider sends my continuing education information to the Board, I don’t need to keep any records, correct?

A; No, you must retain your continuing education certificates for 10 years. During that period, you are required to produce those certificates to the Board upon request, regardless of your provider sending that information to the Board.

17. I am a continuing education provider, may I use instructors who aren’t licensed in Massachusetts but are licensed in other states?

A: No, all instructors must be Massachusetts licensees. This is not a change. However, please note that this does not prohibit the Board from entering into agreements with other states to accept their continuing education. For example, during the 2013 to 2016 renewal cycle, the Board and its Rhode Island counterpart agreed that each state would accept the other’s continuing education. In that situation, licensees in Rhode Island were allowed to take their qualifying education from Rhode Island approved providers with Rhode Island licensed instructors (thus not approved or licensed by the Massachusetts Board). Note that all such reciprocal agreements with other states are subject to change or cancellation. Licensees in other states must verify such an agreement is in place prior to assuming education provided by a non-Massachusetts education provider will be accepted towards Massachusetts requirements.

18. I am far from Massachusetts and my state does not have a reciprocal agreement to accept Massachusetts continuing education, are there online continuing education courses?

A: No amendments were made to the Board’s regulations regarding online courses. However, the Board has enacted a separate policy which allows providers to seek Board approval of such courses. Licensees remain responsible for ensuring their provider is Board approved.

19. I offer professional development courses. Do I need Board approval?

A: No Board approval is required to offer professional development courses. However, for sponsors who want to guarantee the Board will accept a professional development course or wants to advertise Board approval, the Board will still approve courses under its existing policies.

QUESTIONS REGARDING 237 CMR 18.00

20. I am a systems technician, may I work for myself with an apprentice?

A: No, you must be employed by a systems contractor, who is responsible for all permits. Systems contractors may supervise apprentices (1 to 1 ratio), however, the apprentice must also be employed by the systems contractor.

21. I am going to place an ad in an online telephone book, do I have to add my license number to that advertisement?

A: It depends, if the online telephone book is merely a listing (such as “electricians”), and all you are including is your name and number, you don’t need to provide a license number. However, advertisements that aren’t part of such directories, as well as ads in directories including more information about your business, such as a slogan or list of services offered, must include your license number (if your business has its own license number, that is the number that must be provided).

22. I got a speeding ticket, do I have to report that to the Board?

A: No, you are required to report adverse court, state or federal agencies, and/or licensing board determinations within 15 days, a traffic ticket is not considered such a finding. However, if the failure to pay such a ticket causes you to lose your driving license, you must report that loss of licensure to the Board.

QUESTIONS REGARDING 237 CMR 19.00 to 21.00

23. Since the Board repealed the regulations governing licensee adjudicatory hearings and Inspectors of Wires, does this mean it won’t discipline licensees and inspectors of wires anymore?

A: No. Under existing laws (e.g. M.G.L. c. 30A, c. 112, §61), the Board already has this power (Inspectors of Wires must be licensed by law), these regulation chapters were removed because they were redundant.

24. Since the Board repealed the regulation chapter governing Inspector Appeals, how do I appeal an inspector decision?

A: The law governing appeals, M.G.L. c. 141, §3P remains in effect, the regulation chapter was removed merely because it was redundant with the existing law. Accordingly, to file an appeal, just as before, applicants must fill out the form provided on the Board’s website and submit it with the proper fee within the timeframe set out in §3P.