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House of Representatives
Session of 2013 - 2014 Regular Session


Posted: February 28, 2013 02:28 PM
From: Representative Matthew E. Baker
To: All House members
Subject: PA One Call legislation
In the near future, I will be introducing legislation amending the Underground Utility Line Protection Law (Act 287 of 1974), commonly known as the PA One Call law. The Act created a system of communication intended to protect underground utility facilities from line hits from excavation projects. The law places enforcement of the Act with the Department of Labor and Industry.

My bill will transfer enforcement authority from the Department of Labor and Industry (L&I) to the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC), create a Damage Prevention Committee, remove exemptions from current law, place additional duties upon facility owners, excavators and project owners and creates an administrative process for the determination of violations and the assessment of penalties. The bill also extends the sunset date of the Act from 2016 to December 31, 2020.

Transferring enforcement authority of the Act from L&I is consistent with recommendations of the US Dept. of Transportation’s Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA). PHMSA encourages state public utility commissions to enforce One Call laws since states with such enforcement have a lower number of reportable incidents and historically, less damage resulting from reportable incidents.

Transfer of enforcement authority to the PUC is consistent with the current regulatory obligations assigned to the commission. The PUC has oversight over many underground facilities of utilities operating in PA and conducts safety inspections of underground lines. The PUC is dedicated to reducing the number of annual line hits thereby reducing damage to utility facilities that can result in property damage and injuries.

My bill also removes exemptions from the One Call law for facilities related to finding and extracting natural resources, municipalities and PennDOT. Excavation conducted by any entity must be done safely to protect underground infrastructure and the citizens of the Commonwealth; calling One Call and ensuring underground lines are properly marked prior to excavation is imperative to accomplishing this goal. Additionally, the federal Pipeline Safety, Regulatory Certainty and Job Creation Act of 2011 limits the ability of states with exemptions to receive Damage Prevention grants and One Call grants. The receipt of such grants offsets the costs of operating the One Call System and mitigates dues paid by participating members.

Introduced as HB1607