Legislature(2003 - 2004)

04/01/2004 01:37 PM Senate L&C

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
                  SB 377-STATE MECHANICAL CODE                                                                              
CHAIR CON BUNDE  announced SB 377 to be up  for consideration for                                                               
its first hearing and that he didn't intend to move it today.                                                                   
MR.  ZACH WARWICK,  staff to  Senator  Gene Therriault,  sponsor,                                                               
said it  is designed to solve  a problem that arose  in 2001 when                                                               
the  Department of  Public Safety  (DPS) adopted  a new  brand of                                                               
building code for the State of Alaska.                                                                                          
The  state has  five codes  for building  construction: plumbing,                                                               
electrical,  mechanical, building  and  fire.  The Department  of                                                               
Labor  and  Workforce  Development   (DOLWD)  has  the  statutory                                                               
authority to adopt  the mechanical and electrical  codes; the DPS                                                               
by  default has  used the  following statute  to adopt  the other                                                               
three codes. It states:                                                                                                         
     The Department  of Public Safety may  adopt regulations                                                                    
     for the  purpose of protecting  life and  property from                                                                    
     fire  and explosion  by establishing  minimum standards                                                                    
     for   fire   and   safety   criteria   in   commercial,                                                                    
     industrial,  business,  institutional or  other  public                                                                    
     buildings and  buildings used for  residential purposes                                                                    
     containing four or more dwelling units.                                                                                    
MR. WARWICK  explained that when  the DPS adopted the  new codes,                                                               
which are  different than  the Uniform Codes,  it was  done under                                                               
the guise that if the new  codes weren't adopted, the state would                                                               
lose Federal  Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)  money. That was                                                               
a  completely untrue  statement. Mechanical  contractors who  are                                                               
the ones  in the  field doing the  installations didn't  have any                                                               
input  on  design  or  installation   procedures;  the  code  was                                                               
primarily   designed  by   architects,  engineers   and  building                                                               
Currently,  a  lawsuit before  the  Supreme  Court of  Alaska  is                                                               
trying to revert  back to the uniform family of  codes. This bill                                                               
would  solve  that problem  by  removing  all references  to  the                                                               
Uniform Mechanical Code.                                                                                                        
CHAIR  BUNDE said  about 10  people wanted  to testify  and there                                                               
were  about 11  minutes left  and that  another hearing  would be                                                               
held at another time.                                                                                                           
MR.  EUGENE RUTLAND,  Executive Director,  Mechanical Contractors                                                               
of Alaska,  supported SB 377.  He explained that  recently Alaska                                                               
adopted a Mechanical Code and  a Plumbing Code that was published                                                               
by  two   different  entities  who   did  not   coordinate  their                                                               
publications with each other.                                                                                                   
     We  need to  have these  codes under  one agency  where                                                                    
     they  can  be  coordinated. The  Department  of  Public                                                                    
     safety  only performs  mechanical  and electrical  plan                                                                    
     review  for  fire  and life  safety  requirements.  The                                                                    
     balance of the mechanical code  is not enforced at this                                                                    
     time.   The   Department   of   Labor   and   Workforce                                                                    
     Development   has  field   inspectors  who   physically                                                                    
     inspect  actual  installations.  Since  mechanical  and                                                                    
     plumbing  are   so  closely  intertwined,   these  same                                                                    
     inspectors  could  and  should inspect  the  mechanical                                                                    
     installation, also.                                                                                                        
     Finally, the  owners of our  member firms  are licensed                                                                    
     mechanical administrators. They  have both plumbing and                                                                    
     mechanical  category  endorsements on  their  licenses.                                                                    
     State  statutes  require  them  to  sign  off  on  each                                                                    
     project they  are responsible for. This  certifies that                                                                    
     the  project has  been solved  in  accordance with  the                                                                    
     applicable  mechanical or  plumbing codes.  The penalty                                                                    
     for  violation  ranges  from  a   fine  to  a  loss  of                                                                    
     license.... We support the passage of SB 377.                                                                              
MR. DOUG MATHERS, Building Official, City of Kodiak, opposed SB
377. His reasoning is in the fax he sent to the committee.                                                                      
MR. GREG MOORE, Nana/Colt Engineering, said they are an oil and                                                                 
gas engineering firm and opposed SB 377.                                                                                        
     We oppose it because  we haven't finished the business,                                                                    
     yet,  of  the Safety  Codes  Task  Force. If  we  would                                                                    
     finish  our  business  there, those  items  that  we're                                                                    
     talking about in this bill would be taken care of....                                                                      
     We  also oppose  it  because this  bill  only tries  to                                                                    
     solve  the problem  for  477 mechanical  administrators                                                                    
     that will  be affected  by this  bill. There  are 6,166                                                                    
     engineers,  designers  and  residential  builders  that                                                                    
     will  also  be  affected  by this  bill,  except  in  a                                                                    
     negative way.                                                                                                              
MR. COLIN MAYNARD, Alaska Professional Design Council (APDC),                                                                   
opposed SB 377.                                                                                                                 
     We  believe that  the process  that  the department  of                                                                    
     Public  Safety has  used to  adopt the  mechanical code                                                                    
     for over  40 years has  always been the same.  The code                                                                    
     was   written  by   The  International   Conference  of                                                                    
     Building Officials  (ICBO) that  they have  adopted for                                                                    
     the  last  40  years.  ICBO  now,  under  the  name  of                                                                    
     International  Code  Council  (ICC),  has  written  the                                                                    
     International  Mechanical  Code  that we're  using,  so                                                                    
     it's not  a different code.  It's the same  people with                                                                    
     the same code.                                                                                                             
MR.  CRAIG FREDEEN,  Mechanical Engineer,  ASCG, Inc.  opposed SB
377. He thought the code should  stay in the Department of Public                                                               
Safety because it has a more open and public process.                                                                           
MR. JEFF ROBINSON, Klebs Mechanical, Inc., opposed SB 377.                                                                      
MS. EDEN LARSON, President,  Associated Builders and Contractors,                                                               
(ABC), opposed SB 377.                                                                                                          
MR.  SAM KITO  III,  Alaska Professional  Design Council  (APDC),                                                               
said it represents  over 5,000 design professionals  in the State                                                               
of Alaska and opposed SB 377.                                                                                                   
MR.  CRAIG STEVENSON,  Regional  Manager, Governmental  Relations                                                               
Office, ICC, said  it is a nonprofit,  public benefit corporation                                                               
whose history  is in three former  groups - one of  them known as                                                               
ICBO. Although  their process of  code development is  similar to                                                               
what ICBO used  to do, it's much expanded and  includes much more                                                               
industry in  the decision making process.  The Uniform Mechanical                                                               
Code that  has been adopted by  the State of Alaska  was the ICBO                                                               
version  and that  is not  promulgated  and updated  by them  any                                                               
more;  however, the  assets of  ICBO are  owned by  the ICC.  His                                                               
organization helps  facilitate a process  for safety codes  to be                                                               
used by local  and state government. He suggested that  SB 377 be                                                               
held for further investigation to see  if it meets the spirit and                                                               
intent of  AS 44.62, Administrative  Procedures, and if  it meets                                                               
the state's  policy for public  meetings. He opposes the  bill on                                                               
the grounds  that there hasn't  been a complete inquiry  into all                                                               
the organizations, their processes and  what others have in terms                                                               
of  providing solutions.  Lastly, he  noted faulty  references on                                                               
page 1, lines 10, 11 and 13.                                                                                                    
CHAIR BUNDE asked  him to forward his comments in  writing to the                                                               
committee. There  being no  further business  to come  before the                                                               
committee, he adjourned the meeting at 3:30 p.m.                                                                                

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