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House Co-Sponsorship Memoranda

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House of Representatives
Session of 2013 - 2014 Regular Session


Posted: February 11, 2013 10:07 AM
From: Representative Patrick J. Harkins
To: All House members
Subject: Co-sponsorship of Legislation – Uniform Construction Code
In the near future, I will be introducing legislation amending the Uniform Construction Code (UCC) to require a review and adoption process for statewide commercial building codes that is separate from the process for residential building codes. This separation will ensure thorough review of commercial building codes, as well as make certain that Pennsylvania adopts current building and safety standards for structures that are used and occupied by the public.

Under current law, the UCC Review and Advisory Council (RAC) is charged with reviewing and adopting all statewide building codes (both commercial and residential) every three years, concurrent with the publication of the triennial revisions of the building codes developed by the International Code Council (ICC). During the last triennial review cycle, 2012, the RAC voted not to adopt any new building codes for Pennsylvania. As a result, under current law, the 2009 building codes for both commercial and residential structures will remain in effect through 2015, or perhaps longer depending on whether the RAC votes to adopt any new codes at that time.

In my view, our state’s failure to adopt the latest version of the International Building Code (IBC) and related commercial codes may present public safety issues and conflicts for builders. Unlike residential buildings, commercial buildings are occupied or visited by the public. These structures should comply with up-to-date code standards. As an example, adoption of the 2012 IBC would call for the use of the latest electrical code standards; however, maintaining the 2009 IBC continues the use of the previous version of the electrical code. Additionally, the UCC requires the use of the latest published accessible building standards, which means that inconsistencies and conflicts may arise as builders and code officials attempt to implement 2012 accessibility standards while using 2009 general building standards.

Specifically, my legislation will require the RAC to begin to review the latest ICC commercial building codes upon their official publication, solicit public comments, and notify the Department of Labor & Industry of recommended exclusions. (For the 2012 codes, this process would begin after enactment.) The department may then promulgate regulations containing the RAC’s recommendations and requiring adoption of the new commercial codes by the end of the year of issuance.

I hope that you will join me in sponsoring this important measure.

Introduced as HB1209