Architects and Engineers in Texas are now required to be fingerprinted each year under a new law that went into effect on Jan. 1.

The law makes Texas the only state in the union requiring fingerprints of architects.  House Bill 1717 was passed by both houses during the 83rd regular session via the Sunset Commission of Texas, which commonly gives recommendations for occupational licensing agencies.

The criminal history check is nationwide and applies to active status renewals or new applications. Architects must renew their licenses every year.

A one-time fee of $41.45 is required, of which $9.95 goes to the fingerprinting vendor and the remainder into the Department of Public Safety and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Violating the law can mean a $5,000 a day penalty.

The reason behind the decision, according to some news reports, is that if a person licensed by the state has access to another’s house, money, children, drugs or explosives, then steps need to be taken to conduct a more thorough background check.

Massachusetts is the only other state besides Texas that conducts criminal background checks of licensed architects.