Hearings Held on UCC Reform Bill

April 2011Newsletters In the Zone

The Pennsylvania House Labor and Industry Committee held hearings (watch video) on March 23, 2011, to receive testimony on legislation that would amend the state’s Uniform Construction Code. The hearing addressed State Representative Donna Oberlander’s House Bill 725 , which seeks to reform the adoption process of the statewide building code.

Oberlander’s bill is distinct from House Bill 377 , which primarily seeks to remove the mandate for residential sprinklers in one- and two-family dwellings.

HB 725 would amend the process by which the Commonwealth adopts the triennial releases of the International Construction Codes. The current adoption process subjects new building codes to examination by the Review and Advisory Council prior to subsequent adoption by the Department of Labor and Industry. The Council can make recommendations to exclude certain changes that appear in the latest International Codes.

The legislation would slow down the adoption process by requiring the Council to take up to 15 months to review the new building codes as well as accept public input at hearing around the state. The Council would then submit a detailed report with recommendations for adoption or modification of the new provisions of the code. Essentially, code adoption would change from a “vote out” to a “vote in” treatment of new code provisions by the Council.

The Council’s report would explain the reasons for each recommendation by examining the code provision’s impact upon health, safety and welfare of the public; its economic reasonableness; the technical feasibility of the provision; and its impact to housing affordability.

HB 725 would also expand the size of the Review and Advisory Council to accommodate representation by consumer-oriented groups. Additionally, code adoption recommendations must gain approval by two-thirds of Council members.

Companion legislation has also been introduced in the Pennsylvania Senate.

For more information, please contact Kimberly A. Freimuth at 215.918.3627 or [email protected].