It's only one of the goofy things up here in this area. Building permits, plumbing permits, and electrical permits are all issued by separate agencies - equally stupid. At least electrical can be obtained over the internet.
The option for homeowners is to not get permits - not legal, but if I get a plumbing permit and then want a licensed plumber to help I have to lie about it. Easier to just not bother with the permit. That said, I have all my permits, it just seems like they are openly discouraging homeowners from getting them. After all, if I get it then plumber isn't going to have to charge me for his time to go and get it himself and the work will be done better than I could do it, although we both will meet code and pass inspection. That's the way it was in California.
Kerry must be along the right tracks though - something to do with crooked plumbers - except, they actually prohibit the use of licensed plumbers with a homeowner issued permit... hmmm...