In the near future I plan to introduce legislation amending Pennsylvania’s Construction Code Act. The process by which the Commonwealth adopts new construction standards adopted by the International Code Council (ICC) through its triennial review and adoption process. The ICC is a national organization of experts from across the spectrum of building construction. It creates nationally recognized model building construction codes which are adopted, in whole or in part, in 48 states.
The Review and Advisory Council (RAC) to the Department of Labor and Industry, responsible under the Act to review and recommend to the Department every three years which of the ICC changes should be adopted as part of our state’s construction code, is still not operating efficiently despite the General Assembly’s 2011 changes to the RAC process. When the RAC met last year to consider the ICC’s 2012 code changes, they voted to reject all of the hundreds of construction code change provisions, without debate on the merits of each of them as required under the Act. As a result, Pennsylvania’s builders are still building to the 2009 standards, and unless the code adoption process is fixed, code experts in our state believe that the RAC will reject all of the 2015 ICC code changes when they are proposed. Also, it is important to note, in 2009, when the RAC reviewed the hundreds of 2009 ICC code changes, they adopted all of them. It is improbable that in every triennial construction code cycle, the proposed changes are either all good or all bad for Pennsylvania. My legislation will:
- Give the RAC and the Department an additional year beyond the current one year to review the proposed changes and adopt the regulation, which addresses the issue that there is a lack of time for meaningful debate of the many code changes.
- Give the RAC members per diem and mileage expense reimbursement as the state does for numerous boards and commissions. My legislation funds this expense from within existing revenue generated by the Act from an assessment on building permit fees used for construction code education for builders and building code officials.
- Reverse the current language by which the RAC makes decisions. Currently, two-thirds of RAC members must vote to adopt a code provision or it is automatically rejected. With hundreds of code changes, the vast majority of which are commonsense improvements in construction standards, the RAC has been criticized for not reviewing and voting on each one as they are now required to do. My proposed change will allow all proposed code changes to be adopted unless two thirds of the RAC votes them out.
- Add two members to the RAC with expertise in building energy efficiency. Although the RAC membership, as required in the Act, has expertise in many areas of construction, there is currently no provision in the Act for expertise in this field.
- Directs the RAC to re-review the 2012 ICC code changes under this new procedure.