Plumbing Legislation Unnecessary, Restricts Local Autonomy

MACo Policy Analyst Natasha Mehu testified in opposition of HB 711, State Board of Plumbing – State Plumbing Code – Adoption of the International Plumbing and Fuel Gas Codes, and HB 1471, State Board of Plumbing – State Plumbing Code – Adoption and Enforcement, to the House Economic Matters Committee on March 15, 2016.

Each bill would force the State Board of Plumbing to adopt a different State Plumbing Code and ultimately limit local autonomy. Currently, the Board has the authority to adopt a code of its choice and has chosen the National Standard Plumbing Code (NSPC).

From the MACo HB 711 testimony,

HB 711 requires the State Board of Plumbing to adopt as the State Plumbing Code the 2015 International Plumbing Code (IPC) and International Fuel Gas Code and any subsequent versions published by the International Code Commission. The Board may adopt regulations to amend limited sections of the State Plumbing Code if the plumbing industry presents information to the Board regarding better and safer plumbing materials and installation practices.

This bill is unnecessary. There are no systemic issues with either the implementation or enforcement of the State Plumbing Code or local plumbing codes. The State Board has the authority to amend or adopt a new code as needed.

The current system works and allows for adequate local flexibility to adopt a code that best meets their local conditions and needs while still ensuring safe and functioning plumbing systems.

HB 711 would force counties to adopt the IPC when there is no need. This reduces local autonomy and despite the fiscal note indicating a minimal cost to counties, there will be a cost for those counties that use the NSPC to adopt a new code and retrain their code enforcement personnel.

An identical cross filed bill, SB 643, was heard on February 25 in the Senate.

From the MACo 1471 testimony,

HB 1471 requires the State Board of Plumbing to adopt the National Standard Plumbing Code (NSPC) as the State Plumbing Code. The bill repeals the authority of a county to adopt a local plumbing code in lieu of the State Code and limits a county to amend the State Code in ways that are specific to a local area’s soil, water, or typical seasonal conditions. A local amendment would be subject to approval by the State Board.

Currently, the State Board has adopted the National Standard Plumbing Code (NSPC) as the State Code but may choose to adopt another standardized code, such as the International Plumbing Code (IPC) as it sees fit. Counties may either adopt the State Code or adopt a local code that is equal to or more stringent than the State Code. Fourteen counties use the NSPC or an amended variant, while 10 have adopted the IPC or an amended variant. …

HB 1471 would force counties to adopt the NSPC when there is no need and removes their authority to adopt a local plumbing code. This reduces local autonomy and, as the fiscal note indicates, will have a meaningful cost on those counties that currently use the IPC – they must adopt the NSPC and retrain their code enforcement personnel. HB 1471 is unnecessary and would reduce local autonomy.

An identical cross filed bill, SB 831, was heard on February 25 in the Senate.

For more on 2016 MACo legislation, visit the Legislative Database.

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