The Texas pool and spa industry wants its voice heard in the state legislature.

Several Texas pool professionals recently came together to establish the Aquatic Professionals Education Council. APEC is a nonprofit, volunteer-run organization based loosely on SPEC, California’s highly effective lobbying organization for the pool and spa industry.

“Quite a few people from IPSSA [Independent Pool & Spa Service Association] decided we needed to do something in Texas to effectively speak with our legislators,” said Dan Gossage, president of APEC and owner of Dan’s Pool Service in Boerne, Texas. “Our [legislature] only meets every other year, and we don’t face as many issues as they do in California, but we wanted to have a voice.”

APEC bills its mission as promoting the interests of the pool and spa industry by educating the government and consumers. The organization had several informal meetings in 2005. During that time, the group’s spokesperson to the legislature, J. Kevin Tucker, helped shelve HB 3455 and SB 100 — bills proposing ineffective barrier requirements for pools and spas.

“We were able to successfully table the bill in regard to pool fencing,” Gossage explained. “It was going to require fencing around existing portable spas. We’re not opposed to fencing legislation; we just want the language to work with what the industry knows to be true.”

Now that the state legislature has reconvened as of Jan. 9, APEC plans to renew its efforts exponentially. Gossage expects the barrier bill to appear in a new form. In addition, he has heard that state licensing legislation may be in the works.

“We want to make sure legislation in Texas is written and molded with the industry’s guidance,” he said.

For now, APEC continues to promote awareness of its mission among industry groups and conduct membership drives. Gossage plans to send an APEC representative to all upcoming industry association meetings throughout Texas metropolitan areas.

“It’s a struggle bringing awareness to the builders,” said Gossage, who added that a pending redesign of the group’s Web site will help improve understanding. “Most people are a little wary about the group. I’m hoping we can help them better understand what our organization will do.

“Our goal is to achieve some unification among the major trade associations and organizations in Texas,” he added.

Recommended annual fees to join Austin, Texas-based APEC range from $100 to $1,500. The donations are 90 percent tax-deductible. For more information on the group or to join, visit www.apectexas.org or call (866) 513-7946.