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House of Representatives
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session


Posted: January 20, 2017 03:18 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 reform the triennial code review process used by the Uniform Construction Code (UCC) Review and Advisory Council to update the UCC. The legislation contains language from the version of my bill (HB 568 PN 3949) which passed the House on September 28, 2016; the language in this version of HB 568 reflected reasonable compromise with the Senate and I believe reintroduction of this language presents an excellent starting point to achieving, in a timely manner, comprehensive reform to the triennial code review process.

It is important to note that for the past several years important stakeholder groups affected by the UCC have recognized the need to correct several problems with the ICC triennial code adoption process. These problems were highlighted in a letter sent to the Leadership of the House and Senate on February 25, 2015 by the UCC Review and Advisory Council stating that several changes to the law were needed by the Council to properly perform it duties with respect to review and adoption of ICC Triennial Code updates. The Council asked for several changes, with the 3 primary changes being to: 1) Increase review period of triennial ICC code updates from 1 year to 2 years; 2) specifically give the Council the ability to consider code revisions From previous ICC code updates; and 3) specifically give the Council the ability to modify code revisions

Because of the problems mentioned above, the Council was chose not to adopt any provisions that were contained in the 2012 triennial code updates (none were adopted), and the Council only adopted 16 code updates from the 2015 triennial codes. Many stakeholders (including commercial and residential builders) have been disappointed with this result, and believe the code review process needs to be reformed.
I have been involved for over three years in negotiations with stakeholders, and the Senate, in the development of a comprehensive code review reform bill. I began these negotiations with my own ideas on what a reform bill should contain; however, as with any issue with many stakeholders, the ultimate product is a result of compromise between all parties. The legislation I am introducing legislation reflects a product that was the result of months of hard work last session and which the majority of stakeholders can ultimately support. The major noteworthy provisions of the bill are the following:

*The bill increases the timeframe (from 12 months to 24 months) that the UCC Review and Advisory Council has to review triennial ICC code updates. This change simply gives the Council more time to adequately do their job.
*The bill requires that the Council begin its review 21 months after publication of the updated triennial codes. This change allows Pennsylvania to observe, for almost two years, the impact of new code provisions on rest of country before such provisions are considered here.
*The bill amends the act to require that a 120 day public comment period be commenced 30 days after the Council begins its review of the triennial code updates. This change ensures that the public has 4 months to provide comment on proposed code changes.
*The bill requires the Council to establish technical advisory committees which would be tasked with reviewing specific portions of triennial code updates. This change ensures the Council receives well-founded technical input from various committees.
*The bill requires that the Council initiate a new review of the updated provisions of the 2015 triennial codes within 30 days of passage of the bill. This change reflects almost universal support for a re-review of 2015 Triennial codes.
*The bill provides an extensive vetting process for consideration of new code changes and ensures that noncontroversial items can be considered in separate voting blocks other than controversial items. This change ensures that the Council does not spend energy examining clearly noncontroversial items that receive no negative comments.

It is important to note that the bill preserves Act 1 of 2011’s core requirement that a 2/3rds vote of Council is needed to adopt triennial code provisions (although this bill permits clearly noncontroversial provisions to be adopted by majority vote). As of this writing, it is known that the PA Builders Association and Associated Builders and Contractors support this legislation, with local government organizations being neutral.

Introduced as HB409