Senate Labor and Industry Committee Forwards Important Building Code Reform

(HARRISBURG) – The Senate Labor and Industry Committee today approved legislation that will establish a technical review and advisory council to address updates to  the Pennsylvania Uniform Construction Code, according to Senator John R. Gordner (R-27).  Senator Gordner, the Committee Chairman, said House Bill 1096 is the product of several public hearings in both the Senate and the House of Representatives over the past year to address problems with the Code.

The Labor and Industry Committee and the Senate Local Government Committee, chaired by Sen. Robert Regola (R-39), held hearings to hear from local government officials, code enforcement officials, affected industry representatives and citizens to determine how implementation of the building code can be improved.

“As with any law of statewide impact, there will be certain problems with interpretation and enforcement,” said Senator Gordner.  “Our hearings identified those problems and we worked with the affected parties and the House on this legislation to address these issues.”

The review council created by the legislation will consist of experts in all fields related to the design, construction and inspection of buildings, in addition to municipal representatives.  It will review proposed changes to the International Code Council’s family of codes before they are adopted in Pennsylvania by the Department of Labor and Industry.

“Currently, the law provides that Pennsylvania automatically adopts the International Council codes, which are updated regularly,” said the Senator.  “This has caused problems with portions of the Code that are not applicable in Pennsylvania, or conflict with certain municipal requirements already in place.  Pennsylvania is the only state that automatically adopts the International Code prior to implementation and HB 1096 addresses this deficiency.”

The Labor and Industry Committee today also approved Senate Resolution 263, sponsored by Sen. Mike Waugh (R-28).  The resolution directs the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee to conduct a study relating to the $4.00 fee imposed on each construction and building permit issued under the Construction Code Act.  The fees were established to fund education and training programs for municipal code officials and agencies that enforce the Code.  The report will determine the effectiveness of the programs.

“In addition to problems related to the Code because of blanket adoption of the International Code, the other problem identified during our hearings was inconsistent enforcement at the local level,” said Senator Gordner.  “This review of the training programs and funding will help us identify possible future legislation to address this issue,” the Senator said.

The Legislative Budget and Finance Committee will report its findings to the General Assembly by the end of September.