A new law that took effect Jan. 1 adds architects to the number of professionals in Texas that are required to be fingerprinted when renewing or applying for their license.
That information will be stored with the Department of Public Safety and Federal Bureau of Investigation's criminal background database.
"Here’s my test when I served on the Board of Architectural Examiners, my test for everything that was brought to us was: Is this preserving the health, the safety and welfare of the people of Texas?" said Peter Pfeiffer, a partner with the Austin-based Barley and Pfeiffer Architects who has served on the state’s Board of Architectural Examiners. "So in my view I can’t really see the direct connection of preserving the health, safety and welfare of Texans with this fingerprinting law."
Pfeiffer said he can see why the law is needed for professions like realtors because they have access to a person’s home.
"But architects don’t typically have random access to people’s home or places of business, so in my view I can’t really see the direct connection between protecting the health, safety and welfare in this fingerprinting law," Pfeiffer said.
One of the reasons discussed for the bill had to do with protecting the public from those wanting to do mass destruction because of an architect’s ability to secure building and city plans.
Pfeiffer said he wonders if fingerprinting would really be much of a deterrent and calls that reasoning for the law a stretch. Pfeiffer said he also wonders why the state wants to keep track of architects and not others in the building industry.
"There are many participants in the building industry who could also do a lot of damage that don’t have to comply, for example there’s a whole group called building designers," he said.
Pfeiffer pointed out that other professions like air conditioning contractors and plumbers have equal access to building plans, but are not fingerprinted by the State of Texas. Pfeiffer said he is also concerned what the state does with the fingerprints and asked when all this information gathering would stop.