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House of Representatives
Session of 2015 - 2016 Regular Session

MEMORANDUM

Posted: February 10, 2015 12:10 PM
From: Representative Eli Evankovich
To: All House members
Subject: Legislation to Reform Uniform Construction Code Adoption Process
 
In the near future I plan to introduce legislation to amend the Pennsylvania Construction Code Act (Act 45 of 1999) to enact changes to the triennial code review process used by the Uniform Construction Code (UCC) Review and Advisory Council to update the UCC. My legislation contains several proposals that are being requested by the Council, and which were contained in the final version of SB 1023 (McIllhinney) which was reported out of the House Labor & Industry Committee by a vote of 23-1 on September 24, 2014; this bill was never considered for final passage by the House, and the problems its was attempting to address still exist.

I was directly involved in the negotiations that took place last year when the House Labor & Industry Committee was attempting to produce an “agreed to” bill that would address the issues of the major interest groups that have an interest in the code adoption process. Unfortunately, consensus could not be arrived at, and the Committee “scaled back” the bill to only including minimal, mostly technical, changes that are needed now by the Council to ensure their ability to properly review the 2015 triennial International Codes Council (ICC) codes. My legislation contains the following proposed changes from SB 1023 that are still necessary:

1) Increase Review Period of Triennial ICC Code Updates From 1 year to 2 years-The 2015 ICC codes were published in June of 2014, and Act 45 gives the Council one year to study the changes and make their formal recommendations on what provisions are to be adopted as part of UCC. Thus, the Council now has until the end of May (of this year) to continue to review, and vote on, the over 1,800 revisions that were made from the 2012 ICC codes to the 2015 ICC codes. The Council is finding that one year to properly review the numerous code revisions is too little time for them to adequately study and vet all the revisions (the 19 members of the Council are all volunteers and most have full-time jobs). They have asked that the one year review period be extended to two years; this is one of the simple, straightforward, changes my bill proposes.

2) Specifically Give the Council the Ability To Consider Code Revisions From Previous ICC Code Updates-I strongly believe, as well as the Council, that this technical change to the law must be made in order to properly consider the 2015 ICC code revisions, and future triennial code revisions. The problem is that Act 45 does not give the Council the specific authority to consider code revisions from previous triennial code updates (e.g., 2012). In 2012, the Council met, but did not reach the statutorily required two-thirds vote (13 votes) to adopt any of the 2012 I-Codes. As a result, Pennsylvania is still operating under the 2009 I-Codes.

The technical issue the Council is facing is that revisions that were made from 2009 to 2012 may not have been further revised from 2012 to 2015. Therefore, because the Council did not approve any of the revisions from 2009 to 2012, any provision revised in 2012 but not again in 2015 would revert back to the 2009 standard. This is what the Council Chairman refers to as the “delta” problem. This “delta” problem is universally recognized by the builders, and code officials, as a serious technical problem.

3) Specifically Give the Council the Ability To Modify Code Revisions-Under current law, the Council cannot modify code revisions; it is argued by the Council that some code revisions that would be rejected (if required to be accepted in whole) could in fact be considered beneficial to the Commonwealth and adopted, if they were slightly modified.

4) Provide Funding From Existing Revenue Stream For Administrative Support of Council-The bill provides the Council with some monies (about $90,000 annually) redirected from existing revenues generated by the existing $4 surcharge on building permits; these monies will be used by the Council for staff assistance and to pay for reimbursement to Council members (who are volunteers) for travel expenses.

In addition to the changes noted above which were in SB 1023, my legislation proposes changing the current three year ICC code review and adoption process to a more manageable six year process. I have heard from many interested parties (builders in my district, code enforcement officials, and township officials) that, as complex as the code is now, being required to learning new code standards every three years is burdensome. In fact, in May of 2013 the Council’s Legislative Working Group recommended that the code review process be based on six year cycle (with a minor review in mid-cycle); my proposal models this recommendation. As stated previously, the number of changes from the 2012 ICC codes to the new 2015 codes numbers around 1,800 and if most of these are adopted, there will be a voluminous amount of technical changes for code/officials builders to incorporate and be competent in administering.

Let me emphasize that this bill does not change the law’s current presumption that ICC code triennial revisions are not part of the UCC unless adopted by a two-thirds vote of Council members. This was, perhaps the most important reform of Act 1 of 2011 and this vital reform is not changed by my legislation. It is important to note that my bill does not change current exemptions in the law that prohibit the adoption of certain triennial code provisions (such as residential sprinklers). The PA Builders Association Industry supports this legislation, and I expect that, depending on your district, many local governments will support, or be neutral.



Introduced as HB635