History of the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation
1909: Texas Bureau of Labor Statistics
The history of the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR) starts in the early 20th century. In 1909, the 31st Texas Legislature enacted House Bill 109, creating the Texas Bureau of Labor Statistics. The mission of the Bureau was to collect and report statistical information to the governor regarding labor and industry within the state of Texas.
The Bureau reported on the commercial, social, educational, and sanitary conditions of Texas workers and their families, and was headed by a commissioner appointed to a two-year term by the governor. Gradually, the Legislature increased the Bureau’s responsibilities and added powers of administration and enforcement of laws impacting the health and safety of employees, employers, and the public.
The Bureau's Labor Division administered and enforced labor laws related to wages, hours, payment, health, safety, and the Child Labor Law. Originally passed in 1925 (House Bill 161, 39th Legislature) and amended in 1929 (House Bill 319, 41st Legislature), the law regulated the age at which children were legally able to work, permitted hours, and types of employment. The Bureau inspected each child work permit and worked with local law enforcement to prosecute violations.
The Bureau’s Employment Agency Division enforced the Employment and Labor Agency Law passed in 1929 (Senate Bill 127, 41st Legislature, 2nd Called Session) and amended in 1943 (House Bill 264, 48th Legislature) and 1947 (House Bill 770, 50th Legislature). The law regulated employment agencies, which assisted individuals in finding jobs within their county, and labor agencies, which hired agricultural workers on behalf of an out-of-state employer.
During this time the Bureau had three other divisions:
- The Boxing and Wrestling Division regulated and enforced boxing and wrestling contests and their promotion within the state of Texas.
- The Oil and Gas Enforcement Division administered laws protecting the health and safety of industrial workers.
- The Boiler Inspection Division regulated the use of boilers through the registration and inspection of boilers that operated at a pressure of greater than fifteen pounds per square inch.
1973: Department of Labor and Standards
In 1973, the Legislature (House Bill 901, 63rd Legislature) changed the name of the agency from the Texas Bureau of Labor Statistics to the Texas Department of Labor and Standards. During this time, six advisory bodies served the commissioner of the Department:
- Private Employment Agency Regulatory Board;
- Performance Certification Board for Mobile Homes;
- Board of Boiler Rules;
- Industrialized Building Code Council;
- Manufactured Homeowners' Recovery Fund Board of Trustees; and
- Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Contractors Advisory Board.
1989: Department of Licensing and Regulation
In 1989, the Legislature (House Bill 863, 71st Legislature) changed the agency's name to the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR), and created a six-member (later seven) Commission of Licensing and Regulation to act as the agency’s governing body. Members of the commission are appointed by the governor to six-year overlapping terms and confirmed by the senate.
Throughout the years, TDLR has evolved to become the state's primary occupational licensing agency, responsible today for the management of 39 licensing programs.
(Sources include: Texas State Library and Archives Commission; Guide to Texas State Agencies, various editions; biennial reports of the agency, various years; and agency records.)