Legislature(1995 - 1996)

03/29/1995 03:10 PM L&C

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
txt
 HB 224 - STATE PLUMBING CODE                                                
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN KOTT stated that they would hear a report from the                   
 subcommittee chairman on the status of HB 224, "An Act relating to            
 the state plumbing code."                                                     
                                                                               
 Number 105                                                                    
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG directed the committee's attention to the             
 working draft CS 9-LSO740/O.  The subcommittee reviewed the CS the            
 previous day.  They have taken the original sponsor's bill and                
 transferred the administration of the Uniform Plumbing Code (UPC)             
 to the Department of Labor (DOL).  In doing so, they also adopted             
 an amendment requested by the City of Fairbanks and the City of               
 Kodiak.  He explained that they felt as an interim measure, they              
 should provide the relief requested from those particular                     
 jurisdictions having fuel oil heated boilers, as opposed to gas               
 fired boilers.                                                                
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG said the only new addition to the bill was            
 the multiple dual sunset provisions placed in the statute.                    
 Sections 8 and 9 of the working draft CS provides for a two year              
 sunset of the heat exchanger section as well as for the plumbing              
 code adoption.  The intent of the sunset provision was that the               
 committee, as a long range project, would be reviewing the entire             
 building code along with the different circumstances within the               
 state of Alaska.  After reviewing these, it would bring                       
 recommendations for revisions in the administration of the code,              
 with the intent of weaning the administration of the code away from           
 the legislature, if that is found to be the desirable thing to do.            
 He said it is imperative to develop a public process so that local            
 amendments can be put to use on a statewide basis with adequate               
 public review and input.                                                      
                                                                               
 Number 166                                                                    
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN KOTT asked if there were any questions.  Hearing none, he            
 said he would entertain a motion.                                             
                                                                               
 Number 171                                                                    
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER made a motion to adopt the proposed working             
 draft for HB 224, Version O, dated 3-28-95.                                   
                                                                               
 Number 173                                                                    
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN KOTT asked if there wan an objection.  Hearing none, CSHB            
 224(L&C), Version O, was adopted.  Chairman Kott said he would take           
 testimony via teleconference from Sitka.                                      
                                                                               
 Number 183                                                                    
                                                                               
 MARY LOU VILANDRE, FRANKS PLUMBING, HEATING AND SHEET METAL,                  
 testified via teleconference from Sitka.  She inquired if the UPC             
 makes a change, would the legislature automatically adopt the                 
 change without any input.                                                     
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN KOTT responded that they would revisit the entire code               
 during the interim, at which point they would solicit public input            
 regarding the applicable codes.                                               
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG added that the bill requires the DOL to               
 draft regulations and take public testimony during the interim                
 period.                                                                       
                                                                               
 MS. VILANDRE asked if that would be through the teleconference                
 network.                                                                      
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN KOTT asked ED FLANAGAN to join the committee at the table.           
                                                                               
 Number 206                                                                    
                                                                               
 ED FLANAGAN, ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER, DEPARTMENT OF LABOR, stated              
 that he was not the best witness on this issue.  Generally, when              
 the department adopts regulations, public hearings are held in                
 Fairbanks, Anchorage, and Juneau.  The department also accepts                
 written testimony.  However, he was unclear regarding the                     
 teleconferencing of those meetings.  The issue of whether they                
 would take testimony by phone would be determined pursuant to the             
 Administrative Procedures Act.                                                
                                                                               
 Number 220                                                                    
                                                                               
 MS. VILANDRE stated that Franks Plumbing and Heating does business            
 between Ketchikan and Barrow.  Their business requires them to find           
 a heat transfer medium suitable for 50 degrees to -50.  She doesn't           
 feel the National Code could "hack it for Alaska without some input           
 from the people."                                                             
                                                                               
 Number 223                                                                    
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG responded that this was why they                      
 incorporated the two year sunset date.  They would have put just              
 one year in, but they wanted sufficient time to review the entire             
 building code system, to allow for greater public input and the               
 creation of local amendments as necessary.                                    
                                                                               
 Number 237                                                                    
                                                                               
 STEVE SHUTTLEWORTH, BUILDING OFFICIAL, CITY OF FAIRBANKS, testified           
 via teleconference from Fairbanks.  He said that Fairbanks had just           
 come on line and he had only received the work draft CS in the past           
 few minutes.  He asked the purpose of the sunset clause.                      
                                                                               
 Number 257                                                                    
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG explained that the sunset provisions were             
 provided to remind all of them that they would be taking on an                
 interim project to complete the examination of all building codes             
 in the state, including the regulatory scheme and methods by which            
 local amendments could be adopted.  The committee wants to avoid              
 what they were doing here today, which is to adopt a local                    
 amendment at Mr. Shuttleworth's request in the legislative forum,             
 when it should be handled by another forum.                                   
                                                                               
 MR. SHUTTLEWORTH appreciated the intent.  However, as he reads the            
 section, it is a sunset for Subsection C, which is a single wall              
 coil provision.  He reads it as (indiscernible) type of amendment             
 and it seems that it is only attached to the single wall coil.                
                                                                               
 Number 287                                                                    
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER explained that his belief in suggesting the             
 sunset provision, was that it's not appropriate that the                      
 legislature deal with and revisit the plumbing codes every year, or           
 every time the UPC changes.  He said this would be better for a               
 board or group having more expertise in the area to accomplish that           
 task.  There was a compromise in terms of putting the heat                    
 exchanger language into the statute.  They put it in statute                  
 because they are addressing a specific problem existing now, and              
 they had it sunset, so that by the time it sunsets, regulations               
 will be in place.                                                             
                                                                               
 Number 302                                                                    
                                                                               
 MR. SHUTTLEWORTH said that the reason the City of Fairbanks opposes           
 the amendment is that over the years, the city has not had the best           
 working relationship with DOL.  He pointed out the tremendous                 
 amount of correspondence taking place between the City of Fairbanks           
 and the committee.  He would agree that adopting regulations, and             
 working through the regulatory process, would probably be                     
 appropriate in most cases.  However, because things have not worked           
 out with DOL, they are willing to take their chances with the                 
 legislature.                                                                  
                                                                               
 MR. SHUTTLEWORTH asked what assurances they would have, after the             
 two year sunset, that the DOL will "nix" the single wall coil and             
 revamp it completely.  His goal was to solve a problem that is real           
 in Fairbanks, not to create a political dilemma or crisis.  He is             
 meeting with the Architects Association on March 30th, and he has             
 verbal assurances they are in support of the single wall coil                 
 amendment.  He told the committee that he had polled the Interior             
 Builders Association, and he said the Mechanical Contractors have             
 voiced their support.  The message is clear that compromise is                
 appropriate, but they are adamantly opposed to the sunset clause.             
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE KOTT voiced that the committee understands the                 
 concerns not only of Fairbanks but of other areas as well.  He said           
 that they will be taking a look at the building code, and if they             
 can't get cooperation, they'll be back two years from now,                    
 addressing the same topic.  He commented that the legislature was             
 under new management and that there seemed to be a good working               
 relationship.  The department has agreed to look hard at the                  
 matter.                                                                       
                                                                               
 Number 355                                                                    
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG wanted to point out the seriousness in                
 which the committee takes the state building code issue.  This                
 particular bill exposed a significant weakness in the regulatory              
 and statutory structure, and if further disclosed weaknesses                  
 concerning the way they are administered in the state.  He said               
 this would be a major interim project for the committee and himself           
 personally.  He pointed out that he has received input from various           
 state building officials, specifically in other large urban areas,            
 indicating disagreement with the amendment.  The committee is                 
 taking a position to support the people in Fairbanks, particularly            
 given the input from Representative Jeannette James.  He asked that           
 any adamant rejection of the sunset clause not cloud the ability of           
 the committee to move the bill through the legislature.                       
                                                                               
 Number 371                                                                    
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN KOTT asked Representative Jeannette James to join them at            
 the table.                                                                    
                                                                               
 Number 380                                                                    
                                                                               
 LARRY LONG, CITY PLUMBING INSPECTOR, CITY OF FAIRBANKS, testified             
 from Fairbanks via teleconference.  He said he deals every day                
 with the plumbing code.  Public input is great, but if you don't              
 act on it, it's worthless.  In Fairbanks, they have approximately             
 25 amendments to the UPC, which have come from public testimony.              
 He does not believe the state has ever amended the UPC.  Local                
 conditions should dictate when it comes to codes, especially codes            
 written in Southern California.  He can't see the state of Alaska             
 taking on such a project, thinking they can take public input and             
 make a perfect code for the entire state.  He said he's worked with           
 Adell Bacon in committees, and they all understand that there are             
 local conditions that have to be addressed.  If they spend every              
 two years analyzing these, they'll never accomplish anything.                 
                                                                               
 MR. LONG said that 90 percent of the water heated in Fairbanks is             
 heated with single wall coils, including the city's main water                
 system at the treatment plant.  Cooperation and regulations with              
 the DOL will not work.  In his opinion HB 224 "should be flushed."            
                                                                               
 Number 418                                                                    
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN KOTT asked if anyone else wished to testify via                      
 teleconference or in Juneau.  There being no further testimony, he            
 closed public testimony.                                                      
                                                                               
 Number 420                                                                    
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE JEANNETTE JAMES noted that she didn't want to be               
 insulting to anyone on the committee, but asked, "If single wall              
 coils are good today, what makes anyone think that in two years               
 they won't be?"  She reiterated that agencies should not be given             
 "carte blanche" authority to write regulations in areas.  Past                
 experience has never been totally successful.  However, she agrees            
 that there are cooperative people in the department today; but,               
 there is no guarantee those same people will be here tomorrow.  She           
 noted the same goes for the legislators at the table.  Someone else           
 may be elected that has no sympathy for the same issues that they             
 do, and these issues ought to be addressed by regulation.                     
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE JAMES commented that she is presently trying to get            
 more public input into the regulation process.  The comments they             
 have heard indicates that public input makes no difference.                   
 Historically, it hasn't always made any difference.  She said that            
 the public process in writing regulations in many cases has been a            
 sham because regulations were already written before they ever got            
 to the public process.  Having the whole bill expires in two years            
 might make sense.  However, she doesn't understand the purpose of             
 picking out the single wall issue and have it expire in two years.            
 She realizes that people in Anchorage don't think this is a good              
 idea, but it depends on how you look at things.  The people in                
 Fairbanks must look at this differently, as 90 percent of their               
 water is heated with single wall coils.  She urged the committee to           
 delete the sunset clause.  She appreciates that fact that the                 
 committee will be looking at the building codes, but she disagreed            
 with Representative Porter, who believes that these are issues that           
 should be dealt with in regulation.  She asked who else is                    
 responsible in this state to make laws in this state, but the                 
 legislature.  If we don't want to assume our responsibility for               
 this and want to pass it on to someone else who doesn't have the              
 same obligation to public input that they do, then we are being               
 derelict in their duties."  She requested the deletion of the                 
 clause.  She added that whether they delete it or not, it has                 
 nothing to do with whether or not you can rewrite the code in the             
 next two years.                                                               
                                                                               
 Number 475                                                                    
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER stated that he sympathizes with the City of             
 Fairbanks and pointed out that it was not the intent of the sunset            
 to say that in two years, it would drop off and that they expect              
 the code to stay the same.  It takes the Plumbing Code and places             
 it in the same category as all the other building codes that don't            
 have to go through the statutory process for revision.  They do not           
 have the time or expertise to deal with the intricacies of                    
 electrical, plumbing, and various other building codes that exist.            
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER noted that the City of Anchorage uses the               
 Board of Examiners and Appeals that doesn't impact even the                   
 Municipal Assembly.  They recognize that they are not equipped to             
 deal with the levels of professional problems existing in these               
 codes, especially in a state that needs local options.  If they               
 could write a statute, that would allow regionalization for the               
 input of local options that cities could utilize.                             
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN KOTT stated that PAT KNOWLES had joined the teleconference           
 line from a remote site.                                                      
                                                                               
 Number 503                                                                    
                                                                               
 PAT KNOWLES, MECHANICAL ADMINISTRATOR, AND OWNER OF MOUNTAIN                  
 MECHANICAL, PLUMBING AND HEATING, testified in favor of HB 224.  He           
 explained that double wall heat exchangers were adopted in the UPC            
 because they cannot control the fluid substance that is used to               
 heat the water on the other side of that pipe.  For example, in               
 Anchorage there are four types of anti-freeze available for use in            
 boilers as heat exchanger fluid.  They are;  Polypropylene glycol             
 with corrosion inhibitors; polypropylene glycol without corrosion             
 inhibitors; RV anti-freeze; and, ethylene glycol anti-freeze.  He             
 said the difference between polypropylene glycol with corrosion               
 inhibitors and ethylene glycol is about $6 dollars per gallon.                
                                                                               
 MR. KNOWLES said the beauty of the double wall heat exchanger is              
 the fact that it's vented; so if the coil breaks it squirts the               
 fluid out the bottom.  You know you have a problem before it makes            
 it into your drinking water.  He said this is not an economic                 
 issue, it is a health issue.  He read the following from the UPC,             
 "Frost or Snow Closure.  Where frost or snow closure are likely to            
 occur in locations having minimum design temperatures below zero,             
 then terminal shall be a minimum of two inches in diameter, but in            
 no event smaller than the required pipe.  The change in diameter              
 shall be made inside the building at least one foot below the roof            
 and terminate not less that ten inches above the roof, or as                  
 required by the administrative authority."  They make allowances              
 for specific locations to adjust the code to their needs.  He                 
 reiterated that this is a health issue, not an economic issue.  The           
 single wall heat exchanges were failing in Anchorage because the              
 pipes are sensitive to the velocity of water traveling through                
 them.  If the pump is too big, it moves the water too fast.                   
 Plumbers size their pipes to what the need will be at the other               
 end.                                                                          
                                                                               
 Number 563                                                                    
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN KOTT asked if there were questions.  Hearing none, he                
 closed public testimony.                                                      
                                                                               
 Number 568                                                                    
                                                                               
 MIKE TIBBLES, HOUSE RESEARCHER TO REPRESENTATIVE VIC KOHRING,                 
 ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE, PRIME SPONSOR OF HB 224, testified that             
 Mr. Knowles was one of many individuals who had contacted their               
 office with concerns on this specific issue.  They are not                    
 convinced that the single wall exemption would be guaranteed safe             
 in every instance.  He said that you could require propylene glycol           
 in the heat exchanger; however, there is no enforcement mechanism             
 to guarantee that this is what will be used.  His office has had              
 nothing but technical support for the double wall heat exchanger,             
 and the only opposition they have heard is financial in nature.               
 Therefore, the sponsor does not feel that there is sufficient                 
 evidence to warrant the single wall exchanger at this time.                   
                                                                               
 Number 583                                                                    
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG restated the position of the subcommittee             
 on the appropriateness of this body to look at local amendments to            
 building codes.  The purpose of taking on this major project, is to           
 introduce legislation by next session to correct this problem issue           
 and reform the law.                                                           
                                                                               
 Number 596                                                                    
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN KOTT observed that they had heard a lot of conflicting               
 testimony, and that there could be strong justification for local             
 options.                                                                      
                                                                               
 Number 610                                                                    
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE JAMES stated that it was a matter of money.                    
 Everything they do is a matter of money.  There is a long list of             
 schools that need help because of code violations.  Code violations           
 are the biggest "make work" and "make work activity" that they have           
 going.  This country has a multi-trillion dollar debt.  This state            
 has a $500 million dollar budget deficit where the legislature must           
 look and see what is financially feasible.  She said that it is not           
 just a safety issue; it's financial, and without any money, there             
 won't be any safety at all.                                                   
                                                                               
 Number 624                                                                    
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER commented the CS has yet to be adopted.  It             
 recognizes the financial impact and recognizes that they have had             
 conflicting information with balancing safety versus financial                
 considerations.  The compromise is that they will allow single                
 walls to stay in effect for at least two years, and have the option           
 of revisiting the issue then.                                                 
                                                                               
 Number 631                                                                    
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN KOTT recognized that there was no one on the committee               
 from the Fairbanks area, but that they all appreciate what                    
 Fairbanks has and is currently going through.  He said that it is             
 a real problem that will require a real solution.                             
                                                                               
 Number 635                                                                    
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG acknowledged that Representative James                
 brought up a good point of looking at the entire scope of things.             
 One of the alternatives they should look at is whether they want to           
 do away with all state building codes.  He said that if they adopt            
 these codes, but there is no local amendments, they may be better             
 off without them.                                                             
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE JAMES noted that Fairbanks should be happy that the            
 single wall coil was incorporated into the bill.  Currently, they             
 are out of compliance.  She said that it puts them in compliance              
 for the next two years, and she understands their frustration with            
 the irresponsiveness of state government.                                     
                                                                               
 TAPE 95-26, SIDE B                                                            
 Number 000                                                                    
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG made a motion to adopt the proposed CSHB              
 224, working draft, 9-LSO740/0, Banister.                                     
                                                                               
 Number 005                                                                    
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN KOTT stated there was a motion to move the CSHB 224                  
 Version O.  The committee took a brief at ease.  The CS working               
 draft Version O had been previously adopted.  Chairman Kott stated            
 there was a motion to move CSHB 224, Version O, dated 3-28-95,                
 Banister, from committee with individual recommendations and                  
 accompanying fiscal notes.  He asked for objections.  Hearing none,           
 CSHB 224(L&C) moved out of committee.                                         
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN KOTT appointed Representative Rokeberg Chairman of the               
 subcommittee that would be looking at the revision of the building            
 codes during the interim.                                                     
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG said he would take the assignment seriously           
 and willingly.                                                                

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