Legislature(1995 - 1996)
04/20/1995 08:09 AM STA
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HB 224 - STATE PLUMBING CODE Number 014 CHAIR JAMES announced the first bill on the agenda was HB 224 and called bill sponsor Representative Vic Kohring to provide the sponsor statement for the bill. REPRESENTATIVE VIC KOHRING, Sponsor of HB 224, stated the intent of the bill was to give the Department of Labor the authorization to implement the 1994 plumbing code. He stated this was the last of the plumbing codes needing to be implemented by the legislature. He mentioned the most recent code to be implemented was the electrical code in 1993. It passed the House 37 to 3 and the Senate 16 to 2. Thus, he thought there was evidence of strong support for this process to implement the current codes from the legislature. Explaining the history of the bill, he said it initially had only one referral to the Labor and Commerce Committee and passed after considerable testimony and discussion. Then, rather than going to the House floor for a vote, he agreed to have it heard in the State Affairs Committee at the request of Chair James. He mentioned his legislative aide, Mike Tibbles, was with him to help answer any questions on the bill. He stated he would be glad to answer any questions from the committee. Number 023 REPRESENTATIVE BRIAN PORTER asked if he could give a summary of the Labor and Commerce committee substitute for HB 224. MIKE TIBBLES, Legislative aide, Representative Vic Kohring, answered that the committee substitute sought to find a compromise on a particular issue of concern with the original bill, although he emphasized that Representative Kohring still felt the thrust of the bill was to give the Department of Labor the authority to adopt and amend the plumbing code and these single issues of concern should be addressed at the level of the department and not in the legislature. REPRESENTATIVE ED WILLIS verified he was saying that the original bill was the one they preferred. MR. TIBBLES replied he was correct, although there was a technical amendment added in the committee substitute that amended the plumbing code to be considered both a publication and any amendments the Department of Labor adds through the regulatory process. They were just changing the word publication to the minimum plumbing code. He stated the bill sponsor supported this amendment. REPRESENTATIVE PORTER asked what was the specific compromise included in the committee substitute. MR. TIBBLES answered the compromise was a grandfather clause that would allow individuals with single wall heat exchangers to have them replaced with a double wall heat exchanger over a three year period. REPRESENTATIVE JOE GREEN verified whether this provision was in the original or the committee substitute. MR. TIBBLES replied that was in the committee substitute from the Labor and Commerce Committee. REPRESENTATIVE GREEN asked what was in the original version of the bill. MR. TIBBLES stated the original bill just contained the section allowing the Department of Labor to update the plumbing code. Number 138 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER asked if in either version, the Department of Labor could adopt regulations that would be regional in effect, with different considerations for an Arctic environment from those of Southeast Alaska. MR. TIBBLES said he was not sure if this was the case. He thought maybe the Department of Labor could answer better. Number 152 DWIGHT PERKINS, Special Assistant, Office of Commissioner, Department of Labor, answered that should they be given the authority to adopt the updated code by regulation rather than by statute, they would go through the normal regulatory hearing process to determine where changes needed to be made. He also mentioned that individuals could apply for waivers to particular provisions of the code. He stated it was sometimes just a case of common sense. REPRESENTATIVE PORTER verified that there were different considerations given for a community such as Barrow versus Ketchikan. MR. PERKINS responded that he could not say definitely that they would make changes in the code on a regional basis, as it is a statewide code, but that he could say there were waivers given for alternative methods of compliance that did not meet the standard of the code. Number 204 REPRESENTATIVE GREEN thought the current wording of HB 224 set a minimum statewide standard that would then lock in the Department of Labor into giving individual waivers instead of one general exception, such as on a regional basis. MR. PERKINS stated that was correct. REPRESENTATIVE GREEN asked if the original version of the bill also prohibited the Department of Labor from granting a general variance for regional concerns. MR. PERKINS replied that was also correct. He pointed out that the code was adopted for the entire state, but because of regional variations, there are waivers granted for particular provisions of the code. He stated that as long as there were no public safety concerns, he did not see why it would not be granted. REPRESENTATIVE GREEN explained the reason for his questions, was that it seemed to him that a variance should be given to a region, because concerns that affected the whole area, such as climate. He thought it would be more advantageous to adopt a statewide code that allowed for regional differences. Number 243 MR. PERKINS stated this code was considered the minimum standards for the state. He added that a local municipality could be more strict than the state code, but not less stringent. He said that most local governments do adopt stricter requirements. He emphasized this was just supposed to be the minimum standard allowed under state law. He said the Department of Labor would like to see the plumbing code adopted by regulation rather than statute, because of the longer period of time it takes to get things through the legislative process. He pointed out the 1994 code was already out, but they were still using the 1991 version. He stated they would like to be able to update to the new code and be current. REPRESENTATIVE GREEN pointed out that even a nationally applicable code may not be functional for circumstances north of the Arctic Circle, as an example. He asked if there was not some way that the department could adopt the majority of the code as a minimum and still allow for regional variances when necessary. He thought this could take one of several forms: 1) A general exception for a particular geographical region; 2) establishing a minimum standard that was less strict and then allowing for stricter requirements to be established by regulation for specific areas. He mentioned that he thought it was meritorious to want to establish a minimum standard, and in most cases it worked, but there was a large segment of this state where the standard did not work. He thought there ought to be a way around this situation. MR. PERKINS commented that through the regulatory process, he was confident this situation would be addressed. He assured the committee that there would be a fair and open process for taking testimony from those that would be affected by this code and that their concerns would be taken into consideration. Number 295 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER asked if there were not provisions in the code to allow for regional variances to address these concerns. MR. PERKINS stated he could not cite a particular portion of the code where this would be the case, but in the event there was a need for a variance due to climatic conditions, he thought that the waiver process would be appropriate. Number 311 CHAIR JAMES commented that the issue was regarding single wall heat exchangers versus double wall heat exchangers. She said the interior of Alaska uses and feels very strongly that single wall heat exchangers are safe. Those people in the Anchorage area feel that they are not. She argued that the disagreement had nothing to do with climate, but whether single wall heat exchangers are safe and if the extra expense was warranted to install double wall heat exchangers, which were also a third less efficient. She pointed out that there was information contained in the committee packets, which documented that New Jersey had accepted single wall heat exchangers and found them to be safe. This was not an issue of climatic conditions, she stated. She said the real issue was whether single wall heat exchangers were safe and whether the state should require double wall heat exchangers that may or may not be more safe. She stated she wanted to clarify this point. She commented that Mr. Perkins' response to the questions coming from Representatives Green and Porter seemed to indicate that in adopting the Uniform Plumbing Code by regulation, the department was setting a minimum standard that allowed local governments to be more strict, but not less strict. She mentioned that both the National Plumbing Code and the International Plumbing Code allowed for single wall heat exchangers and asked if she was understanding him correctly. MR. PERKINS replied she was correct. CHAIR JAMES asked if the Department of Labor would be able to give a waiver to an entire municipality or if it would have to be given on a case-by-case basis. Number 374 MR. PERKINS answered that he would think that a waiver would be given to an individual, although he added that should a waiver be given to a municipality, that once given, it is there. CHAIR JAMES asked what he meant specifically, when he said it is there. MR. PERKINS responded that he meant that once a waiver is granted to a municipality, then it is in place. Regarding individual waivers, he said they are treated on a case-by-case basis. CHAIR JAMES inquired that should this bill pass and the Department of Labor upgrades the plumbing code by regulation, which then only allows for local variances that are more strict, then would the reason that a single wall heat exchanger is less expensive be considered by the department as cause to grant a waiver. MR. PERKINS stated he did not know the answer. He said that what was being proposed was not just the allowance for single wall heat exchangers, but this allowance based upon the use of propylene glycol in them. He agreed this substance had been found to be nontoxic. Under this scenario, he said its not a bad idea. Number 417 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER stated he had a bill being heard in Finance Committee and apologized for having to leave. He argued this situation demonstrated to him the need to put the plumbing code into statute. He said he did not know enough about propylene glycol or single wall heat exchangers to make an intelligent decision. Nor did he feel they had the time to study this issue as a collective group. He thought there was a difference of opinion regarding this issue and argued there was enough concern raised that he would tend to support the committee substitute version from the Labor and Commerce Committee. CHAIR JAMES responded that she felt that if the legislature did not allow for single wall heat exchangers at this stage, then they would not be allowed by the Department of Labor, except on a case- by-case basis. She stated it was her personal opinion that if the reason for requesting a waiver was because of expense, that a waiver would not be granted. MR. PERKINS replied that should this version of the bill pass through the legislature, the department will go to the users of this code and act on their input to determine what is best needed for the state of Alaska. He said it would be erroneous for him to agree to allow for this exemption before the department was even granted the authority to make this decision. He thought this would lead to accusations that the department did not follow the regulatory process correctly. He wanted to assure the committee that the department would make a good rational decision. Number 466 CHAIR JAMES asked if there was a divided interest in this state, then shouldnt the state law, if it is truly the minimum standard, be less strict than all the various interests of the state. She argued this would allow for those local areas that wanted a stricter standard to adopt one on their local level. To require the state code to have more restrictive requirements for compliance would not allow the local municipalities to have less restrictive policies. She thought that a state code trying to reach the lowest common denominator of allowance, should truly set the minimum standards statewide and allow the individual local communities set higher standards where appropriate in their areas. Number 490 REPRESENTATIVE SCOTT OGAN thought this issue was one of safety and not climate. He stated the concern was over single wall or double wall, because of fear of contaminants getting into the potable water and poisoning people. He argued that if it was safe for one area of the state, it should be safe for all areas of the state. He suggested that climatic conditions were not an issue, because these units were in the house next to the boiler. He felt the basic motivation for an exemption in a particular area was simply money. Number 506 REPRESENTATIVE GREEN said he would take an exception to the prior speaker, but would agree on the fact that it was an issue of safety. He asked if there had been a problem with single wall heat exchangers that have killed or poisoned people. He pointed out that single wall heat exchangers have been the norm for many years. He also mentioned that he saw in the committee packet, that propylene glycol was used in things such as ice cream and salad dressings. He did not think that anyone would be placing poisonous substances, even in low quantities, in food products such as these. Thus, he was concerned that we might be jumping on the bandwagon, because it was a popular thing to do in other states. He pointed out that Alaska was probably the most diverse state in the country and our regional differences were more acute. He stated he was concerned about establishing such a requirement under the guise of safety reasons, when no one could cite any evidence of a safety problem. He failed to understand why we would require a more expensive alternative with no justified reason other than that Alaska wanted to adopt the Uniform Code and be like everyone else. Number 527 MR. PERKINS said that under AS 18.60.735, there is given the authority of local municipalities to adopt plumbing codes that are not any less stringent than the ones adopted by the state. He stated this does not mean they have to adopt the Uniform Plumbing Code, as long as their requirements are as strict as those of the UPC. Regarding the single wall/double wall issue, he reiterated the department could not be put in the position of being forced to make a decision before they even go through the regulatory process. Number 552 REPRESENTATIVE GREEN emphasized it was not an issue of the Department of Labor making a commitment before going through the regulatory process. He stated the real question was why the requirements had to be set so strict in the first place, instead of at a lower level. If the reasons were for safety issues, then he would like to hear examples of where there have been safety problems. Number 573 MR. PERKINS answered there was one incident where an individual put ethylene glycol, rather than propylene glycol, into their system. The heat exchanger then had a problem that allowed the ethylene glycol to get into the potable water and it was ingested. He said he could not recall the specifics. MR. TIBBLES stated he did know of a situation in Anchorage, where there was a pinhole leak in a heat exchanger that allowed the propylene glycol to get into the drinking water. REPRESENTATIVE GREEN asked what the results of this incident were. He asked if someone was killed or made violently sick or what? MR. TIBBLES said the written testimony was that the person said he was not feeling so well. REPRESENTATIVE GREEN stated the point he was trying to get at, was whether or not this was creating a situation of overkill. He mentioned that when someone violates a traffic law and kills someone else, the state then does not prohibit all people of that same age group from driving on the highway. He felt this was what this bill was trying to do. Because of the remote situation where an individual puts in the wrong type of fluid or has a pinhole leak, the state is then deciding that it is necessary to enforce these stricter, more expensive requirements on everyone who puts in a heat exchanger. He emphasized that he was in favor of safety, but was also in favor of rationale. He said he could not see that the state was acting responsibly to force public compliance, when there has not been a problem in the past. Had there been several situations of poisoning or failures, then he could see this as a real needed remedy, but this situation seemed worse to him, than throwing the baby out with the bath water. Thus, he thought that there may need to a lower statewide requirement or some type of regional exception. CHAIR JAMES asked if there were any other questions from the committee, and mentioned that there were people on teleconference waiting to testify. She called on Mary Lou Vilandre to testify from Sitka. Number 625 MARY LOU VILANDRE, resident of Sitka, stated she had both some questions and testimony. She asked if the code had not been upgraded from 1979 to 1991, which was 12 years, then why rush into this code change. She also asked if local municipalities were allowed to be exempt, then who would be legally responsible for any liability, the state or the local government? Finally, she asked for a definition for the proposed amendment phrase of practically nontoxic. CHAIR JAMES asked the bill sponsor if he could answer the question of why it was necessary to rush into making these changes in the plumbing code. MR. TIBBLES answered that he did not feel that they were rushing into adoption of a new code, but were just giving the Department of Labor the authority to make that upgrade and amend the code to make it more applicable to Alaska. He stated the bill does not say that the department will adopt the 1994 code, but just has the authority to upgrade and amend the code when necessary. CHAIR JAMES asked Ms. Vilandre if she could stay on teleconference and they would try to get the answers to her questions later in the hearing. MS. VILANDRE said she could and stated she would rather have a public hearing in the legislative process, when a new code is adopted and not just to go through the regulatory process. REPRESENTATIVE KOHRING mentioned that Representative Norm Rokeberg, Chair of the subcommittee that heard this bill in the Labor and Commerce Committee, was present and asked that he be allowed to come to the table and be available to answer questions. CHAIR JAMES invited Representative Rokeberg to the committee table. She called Pat Knowles to testify via teleconference from Anchorage. Number 663 PAT KNOWLES, Owner, Mountain Mechanical, stated he would try to answer some of the questions he heard asked earlier. He commented he could cite examples of situations that had occurred, but did not think that was the point. He argued the reason for the requirement for double wall boilers was to try to prevent a danger should an individual put ethylene glycol in their boiler, which then contaminated the potable water supply. He said the cost of ethylene glycol was about a third of the cost of propylene glycol, which he felt was an incentive for many people to try to use it in their boiler. He argued that there was no difference in cost for installation of a double wall heat exchanger from a single wall heat exchanger and argued there was not a very large loss of efficiency between a single wall unit and a double wall unit. He said the only difference in cost was for the initial purchase of the unit. He claimed the beauty of the double wall system was that should there be a failure of the system, it dumped the fluids onto the floor. You did not have this indicator in a single wall heat exchanger. TAPE 95-51, SIDE B Number 000 CHAIR JAMES asked if it was not true, that should there be a leak in a single wall heat exchanger, that the pressure of the water in the water lines is so much more than the pressure of the water in the boiler, that the direction of travel would be from the water lines to the boiler, which would cause the relief valve to be released. Number 040 MR. KNOWLES commented that he realized he was talking to someone that was knowledgeable on this subject. He agreed that in most instances this was the case. He said that even if the relief valve failed, someone monitoring the boiler would notice that the pressure was higher. He stated that unfortunately, these relief valves sit unused for years and corrode shut. He could foresee a situation where should there be a lime deposit covering a pinhole, that should the water pressure be shut off such as during a repair, this pinhole would be opened and could allow contamination into the potable water. He thought the question that needed to be considered was whether someone wanted to drink the substance they were using to heat their domestic water supply. Number 087 CHAIR JAMES pointed out that the National Plumbing Code allows the use of single wall heat exchangers, with three conditions that must be met. One of these conditions requires that it be posted what substances are allowed to be put into the boiler. She asked if he felt it was necessary to require double wall heat exchangers, because people could not be trusted to read those signs. She asked if he thought it was necessary for government to be their big keeper. MR. KNOWLES replied that one could think of it that way, but argued that when many of those installing these systems do not know the difference, then how can it be expected that the average homeowner will? He thought that when there was a system that would prevent contamination of the water supply, then why would you want to use any other system? Number 140 EUGENE RUTLAND, Executive Director, Mechanical Contractors of Fairbanks, stated their organization was engaged in the plumbing and heating industry in Fairbanks. He said their organization supported the use of single wall heat exchangers. He argued that the requirement of a double wall heat exchanger in the Uniform Plumbing Code, was a solution looking for a problem. He mentioned the cumulative experience of their organizations membership totalled hundreds of years, virtually all of it in the Arctic area. Their members had no first hand knowledge of any death or illness caused by a single wall heat exchanger. He stated that the Corps of Engineers follows the National Standard Plumbing Code, which does not require the use of double wall heat exchangers, and so all military bases in the state of Alaska use single wall heat exchangers for the heating of domestic hot water. He said their organization would like to see the use of single wall heat exchangers allowed in HB 224, as they would feel more comfortable with this allowance in statute than in regulation. Additionally, their members opposed allowing the Department of Labor to adopt and amend the Uniform Plumbing Code by regulation, as it governs such an important part of their industry. He wanted to urge the committee to listen to the people in the industry, who use and understand plumbing codes and have actual experience of the results from the requirements of these codes. Number 190 ROGER COURTNEY, a plumber in Anchorage, supported the concept of adopting the plumbing code by regulation, rather than by statute. REPRESENTATIVE NORM ROKEBERG asked if he was not the building official and chief plumbing inspector for the municipality of Anchorage. MR. COURTNEY responded he was not the building official. He stated he was the plumbing and mechanical inspector for the city of Anchorage, but was speaking only on behalf of himself. REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG asked if he sat on the committee that wrote the relevant codes for the Uniform Plumbing Code. MR. COURTNEY said he was. REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG asked what his position was regarding exemptions for single wall heat exchangers. MR. COURTNEY stated he was on a committee that approved the change in that code section, that did not allow single wall heat exchangers. He said the reason the committee came up with that recommendation was because of the inability of any government agency to control the types of solutions being put into these boilers. They thought that the double wall heat exchanger was the safer way to go. Number 240 STEVE SHUTTLEWORTH thanked the committee for the opportunity to address HB 224 and the single wall heat exchanger amendment. He mentioned he had recently sent down some information from the Fuel Merchants Association of New Jersey. He stated the amendment allowing for the single wall heat exchanger was derived from the efforts of this organization and the National Association of Plumbing, Heating, and Cooling Contractors. He commented these provisions were ultimately incorporated into the 1991 National Standard Plumbing Code and are the same identical verbatim amendments as adopted by the city of Kodiak in 1992 and the city of Fairbanks in 1994. He noted that this association has 300 companies and supplies fuel for the entire state of New Jersey and parts of New York and the upper New England area. Regarding the safety issue, he read from a presentation to the National Association of Plumbing, Heating, and Cooling Contractors from a New York law firm hired by the Fuel Merchant Association of New Jersey. He said this presentation documented that they have not had a situation of glycol poisoning in four years, which covered 10 million installations. He stated these figures were from the Department of Commerce in the federal government. He argued the reason was that there were so many independent and unlikely things that have to come together, that the chances are so minuscule, as not to be measurable. He mentioned that Representative Green was correct, that everything had to go wrong for a long time to contaminate the water supply. To create a problem: 1) The wrong type of material had to be introduce into the system, with odds of 1 in 50; 2) there must be a failure in the heat exchanger system, with odds of 1 in 10; 3) there must be a leak or leaks in gaskets, with odds of 1 in 2; 4) a leak in the heat exchanger coil must be undetected, with odds of 1 in 100; 5) the pressure of the water supply must fall below the boiler pressure, with odds of 1 in 1000; 6) there must be failure to detect the problem, with odds of 1 in 100; and 7) at the time all of this is going wrong, the system has to be functional for culinary purposes, with odds of 1 in 64. He commented there were odds of 1 in 10 of failure to detect a change in odor and color at the tap source. When all of this is calculated, the chance of glycol poisoning is 1 in 6.4 trillion. He argued that even if it was thought that these odds were inflated, there was still a 1 in 3.2 trillion chance of glycol poisoning if you cut the odds in half. He thought the safety issue had been addressed, but was simply being ignored for the purposes of this discussion. He stated the result of this presentation was the National Association of Plumbing, Heating, and Cooling Contractors supported single wall coil heat exchangers with the same provisions implemented and adopted by the cities of Kodiak and Fairbanks for the last several years. He felt there would be a rippling effect of this bill on other Alaska statutes. He said that Administrative Act AS 118.269 required that all Alaska Housing Finance Corporation projects meet minimum construction standards, including the 1991 Uniform Plumbing Code, which has not been amended. Any building funded in part or whole by the corporation is required to comply with this code, which does not allow for single wall coil heat exchangers. AS 18.60.705 exempts the application of the Uniform Plumbing Code to villages with a population under 2500 people. He argued this was contradictory, in that if there was a problem with glycol poisoning in the urban areas, it will exist in the rural areas as well. He asserted that the only examples cited by the Department of Labor of problems with glycol poisoning were in the rural villages. He asked if we were writing the Alaska Native off. He felt this was not the case, but that the state was not really addressing the problem. He thought it was conveniently trying to legislate itself out of a problem. In closing, he urged the committee to support the use of single wall heat exchangers. He mentioned the city of Fairbanks had received the support of the Alaska State Professional Engineers Association, Interior Builders Association, City of Valdez, and the City and Borough of Kodiak on this issue. He encouraged the committee to closely consider the alleged safety issue and offered to answer any questions from the committee. Number 410 REPRESENTATIVE CAREN ROBINSON asked whether copies of the proposed amendment had been sent to the Legislative Information Offices. CHAIR JAMES stated she would check with her staff. REPRESENTATIVE KOHRING commented that the discussion seemed to be centering on whether single wall coil heat exchangers were safe. He thought this discussion would be more appropriate on the level of the regulatory public hearing process, once the Department of Labor were granted the authority to adopt the plumbing code by regulation. CHAIR JAMES responded this was a public hearing and that the legislature was charged with writing the laws of this state. She thought this was an appropriate place to address this problem and pointed out that the public hearings for the regulatory process were not the same as those of the legislature. TOM GERVAIS, President, Alkota Heating and Plumbing, expressed his opinion that if there was a slight chance for contamination in the potable water with a single wall coil heat exchanger, then he would prefer that people not be at risk when there is a device available to protect the public from this danger. He felt we should not wait for someone to die before this is addressed as a safety issue. Number 425 LARRY LONG, Plumbing Inspector, City of Fairbanks, said he was representing the city of Fairbanks as its plumbing inspector for the past 13 years. He commented he was a resident of Fairbanks for 35 years and that he had drank water from a single wall coil heat exchanger with no adverse health effects. He said he faces these types of problems every day. He thought HB 224 presents more problems than it solves. He stated his concerns were: 1) This bill limits the state of Alaska to only one choice of a plumbing code, which will prevent the state from selecting another code that may better suit its needs; 2) the Department of Labor will be allowed to amend the code when it is in the best interest of the state. He argued that he would rather do his job for the best interests of the citizens of this state, not the state itself; 3) the transfer of power from the legislative branch to the regulatory agencies, seemed regressive to him, in that the national trend was towards less government and more local control. He argued the single wall/double wall coil heat exchanger debate speaks for itself. He stated the proposed amendment that allowed the use of a single wall coil heat exchanger to be phased out over a three year period was nonsense, saying that single wall heat exchangers will be safe for the next three years, but not after that point. He said he did not know what would change about these coils in the next three years, considering that these systems had been in use for over one hundred years. He reiterated he thought the safety issue for single wall coil heat exchangers speaks for itself. He mentioned the city of Fairbanks had 14 proposed amendments to the Uniform Plumbing Code and was concerned that they would have to apply for individual waivers for each of these amendments. He argued the Department of Labor did have the authority to grant exceptions to the code, and quoted AS 18.67.010, which listed the duties of the department, including and may grant exceptions from specific code. He urged the committee to give the ability to the local governments, where there is a building department in place, to establish building codes appropriate for their area, rather than establishing one general provision for the entire state. Number 486 LEONARD KIMBELL, Building Official, City and Borough of Kodiak, emphasized that the city and borough of Kodiak have both requested an exception from the Uniform Plumbing Code to allow the use of single wall coil heat exchangers. This system has worked well for over four decades without report of injury. He argued that to outlaw a system with this strong of a track record runs contrary to the intent of building codes, which is to provide a minimum standard of safety for the public. He stated the majority of this countrys plumbing codes allow the use of a single wall coil heat exchanger. He urged the committee to adopt the amendment proposed by Chair Jeannette James to allow the use of single wall coil heat exchangers. There was a real effort to establish a single building and plumbing code for the entire nation. The heat exchanger issue was not limited to the state of Alaska, but is a national issue. He said there were three building code organizations in the United States and four plumbing code organizations. The federal government has become disturbed with having to design projects and write specifications for projects in different parts of the country, each with their own code. Thus, they are encouraging the model code organizations to establish a single code for the entire nation. He said there was a new plumbing code, the International Plumbing Code, that has received the endorsement of the model plumbing code organizations and by the Council of American Building Officials, which is the organization representing all of the major model code groups. He stated he had just attended a conference where the Uniform Plumbing Code was described as the cadillac of plumbing codes. He argued that Alaska could not afford Cadillacs anymore. He thought it may be premature to outlaw the use of single wall heat exchangers. If a national plumbing code is adopted, he said it looked like their proposed amendment allowing the use of single wall heat exchangers would be adopted in this code word for word. He reiterated these systems have operated safely for over four decades and are still allowed in most of the country. He thanked the committee for their consideration of this matter. Number 533 LES BURNETT, President, K&L Plumbing and Heating, Inc., stated he thought that the main problem was money and the lack of education of people as to the possibilities of what may or may not happen. He asked if it was worth saving a few dollars at the expense of an individual or their familys life. He said there were several instances of cases where there were problems, and he could take people to places in Eagle River where people were putting ethylene glycol in boilers. Fortunately, some of these were not tied into the potable water system, he said. He claimed there was nothing to prevent people from putting regular car antifreeze in their boilers and heat exchangers. Regarding the plumbing code, he said the Uniform Plumbing Code was one of the most accepted in the world. He did not see why the state should even consider changing to something less. JOHN BUTLER, Owner, Johns Heating Service, commented that he had heard a legislator state in a prior teleconference, that they would not like to have the liability for a single wall coil heat exchanger. He stated it was sad that most of the people passing judgement did not work in the field and see what was required in order to make these coils work, even when they are single wall. He said he often had to run boilers up to 220 degrees. He felt that if double wall coil heat exchangers were required, that he would have to run boilers up to 240 degrees. He thought this was a potentially dangerous situation, commenting that they already had to bypass some of the safety mechanisms to prevent people from scalding themselves. He said that the trade journals were full of articles of people suing manufacturers as long as 10 years after getting burned on a boiler or water heater. He thought this bill would take a system that was barely efficient now, and substitute it with something that was less efficient. He reiterated he was totally supportive of the single wall coil heat exchanger. JEFF BOVEE, President, Alaska Best Plumbing and Heating, Inc., said the Uniform Plumbing Code was the most restrictive of the plumbing codes. Thus, he argued it was not a minimum standard, but a maximum. He mentioned the boiler manufacturers do not ship double wall coil heat exchangers as standard equipment, but only offer it as an after market product for the boilers installed in Alaska. He argued that the manufacturers do not see a danger in the single wall coil heat exchangers and have accepted the liability for them. He stated he had been told that in order to make the change to allow for single wall heat exchangers, he had to petition the court system or the legislature. He urged the legislature to grant this change to allow for single wall coil heat exchangers. Number 598 ROYAL BIDWELL stated he was opposed to HB 224, with or without the single wall coil heat exchanger amendment. He felt if this bill passed, then those affected by the regulations of the Department of Labor would not have any voice in the regulations imposed upon them. He said he began working in the plumbing and heating wholesale business in 1967 and had been buying and selling single wall coil heat exchangers ever since. This amounted to many thousands of units. He said he was not aware of a single case where someone even got sick from glycol that contaminated their drinking water. The only rumor of such an incident turned out recently to be false. He reminded the committee that propylene glycol, the type used in residential heating systems, is found in many different food items. It is of very low toxicity when drank directly and is diluted by about 60 percent when mixed with water in a boiler system. He recognized that someone could not be prevented from using ethylene glycol in their heat exchanger, but argued that an individual could not be prevented from using a single wall coil heat exchanger in their boiler system either. He said the most popular size of a double wall coil heat exchanger for residential boilers cost the homeowner about $1500 installed. He thought they were inefficient, using roughly twice the amount of tubing to get the same output of a single wall coil heat exchanger system. He mentioned he had talked to an individual who had used the double wall coil system on a project and had to remove them because of inefficiency. This individual also stated that the double wall tankless coil that replaces the single wall coil in a boiler, costs three to four times the cost of a single wall coil system. He commented that the cost of a double wall coil heat exchanger system for a commercial boiler costs roughly double that of a comparable single wall coil system. He mentioned a quote he had given a contractor of $16,000 for the double wall coil system, which had a deduct of $6,900 for the comparable single wall coil system. This amounted to a 43 percent difference in price, he said. He argued that banning single wall coil heat exchangers would be banning the best heat exchange technology available today. He commented this technology was being used all over Europe, where safety and environmental issues were much stricter than in the United States. This technology is spreading very rapidly in the northeastern states and in the Rocky Mountain region. He felt there was no real health or safety issue, yet we are applying restrictions and controls that are difficult to comply with and expensive. He stated that as an engineering student, his instructors encouraged them to apply the KISS formula. This meant Keep It Simple Stupid. He thought this was a good example of where this formula needed to be applied. Number 547 MICHAEL HIRT, Mechanical Contractor, noted that this bill promoted the idea of the Department of Labor having the ability to adopt and amend the plumbing code by regulation. He said the department has created a lot of friction in the Fairbanks area by their attempts to control the administration of the code. He mentioned the city of Fairbanks has successfully challenged these attempts in court. He felt the city was consistently being bombarded by the attempts of the state to rule and administer the local government. He argued it was never the intent of the Constitution of the state of Alaska to give such centralized power to such an entity. He quoted Article 1, Section 2: All political powers inherent in the people, all government originates with the people, is founded upon their will only, and is instituted solely for the good of the people as a whole. He stated that when the idea of a borough was considered, the delegates drafting its conception deliberately eliminated the word county, as they felt it lacked the power they wanted boroughs to have. Article 10, Section 1, states The purpose of this article is to provide for a maximum local self government with a minimum of local government units. Article 10, Section 2, states All local government powers shall be vested in boroughs and cities. Article 10, Section 6, gives power to the legislature only where a lack of organization exists. Article 10, Section 11, states A home-rule borough or city may exercise all legislative power not prohibited by law or by charter. He thought it was clear that a political subdivision, such as a city or borough that shows itself to be responsible should not have this constant interference from the Department of Labor. Referring to AS 18.60.735, he commented on a contradictory part of the statute, which he felt should be eliminated. He argued it was the source of the usurpation of power by state officials. This section is where the statute states, no less stringent than those established under AS 18.60.705. He felt that the idea of less stringent strengthens the thought that the legislature holds the ultimate power and it is not the intent of home-rule entities. He asked if the people at the legislative level were somehow more competent, careful, or capable than those people at the city or borough level. He argued they were not. An example of where the less stringent issue causes a problem, is section 1007E of the Uniform Plumbing Code, that states that all relief valves shall be extended outside and allowed to release on the ground. They have chosen to be less stringent in the Fairbanks area, because if they did not, the dripping relief valves could freeze the drain pipe shut, creating a very lethal and destructive bomb. Section 1008C2 of the Uniform Plumbing Code states that underground copper piping should be brazed. This does not work in the Arctic environment, as when brazed piping freezes, it is very brittle. To avoid damage from freezing, the Fairbanks area is less stringent and requires brass flare fittings to be used. After citing other examples of where they needed to be less stringent, he stated that with regard to the issue of single wall and double wall coil heat exchangers, they were less stringent and would continue to be, because the dangers were hypothetical and not real. He felt they were less dangerous than electricity at home or driving a car. He stated that AS 18.67.010, already gives regulatory power to the Department of Labor, which is the stated intent of HB 224. This section also states that the department is responsible for the administration of the code. He thought that to comply with Alaskas Constitution, this section only applies to where a city or borough is not organized, or fails to administer the code. Even when the Department of Labor is looking out for the public welfare, it cannot impose an undue financial burden on citizens. In closing, he cited several examples of where the government requires compliance, but the private sector provides the expertise to insure that it works. He reiterated his opposition to HB 224, because of its redundancy with state statutes and its contradictions with Alaskas Constitution. Number 706 STEVE ANDERSON, plumbing contractor, stated his opposition to the outlawing of the single wall coil heat exchanger and the adoption of plumbing code by regulation. He said he was not a government official, engineer, or qualified in design, but thought that he had heard substantial testimony to influence his decision in support of the single wall coil heat exchanger. He felt this bill should only be considered after detailed communication with those who will be using and complying with this code on a daily basis. He stated this bill would force him to require compliance by his customers, that will cost them a considerable amount of money, without any demonstration of increased protection from a significant health threat or other significant benefit. He thought that this position would undermine both his personal integrity and the minimum trust that the public needs to have in their government. He stated he had worked in the industry as a plumbing contractor for 21 years. TAPE 95-52, SIDE A Number 000 CHAIR JAMES mentioned that due to time constraints, it seemed unlikely that the committee would be hearing either HB 304 or HB 270. She urged those on teleconference to fax their opinions or written testimony to her fax number at 465-2381. She said these bills would be rescheduled and they would be able to testify at a later date. REPRESENTATIVE IVAN IVAN commented he wished he could have heard testimony from his home area. He pledged to follow this bill and seek feedback from his district as to how this bill would affect local construction jobs and home building in this type of rural area. He asked if anyone could answer his concerns as to what type of impact this legislation would have on rural Alaska, with regard to plumbing codes. CHAIR JAMES asked how many people lived in the largest communities in his district. REPRESENTATIVE IVAN replied that Bethel had about 5000-6000 people. CHAIR JAMES stated this bill would apply to Bethel, explaining there was an exemption to those communities under 2500 people. She said she did not know whether they were using single wall or double wall coil heat exchangers in Bethel. REPRESENTATIVE KOHRING asked Mr. Perkins, representative of the Department of Labor, if he agreed with the statements of Chair James. MR. PERKINS agreed that in communities under 2500 people, the provisions of the Uniform Plumbing Code were not enforced. Number 043 BILL SAGER, Owner, Chandler Plumbing and Heating, expressed his opposition to the requirement of a double wall coil heat exchanger in the 1994 Uniform Plumbing Code. He mentioned he had been active in the plumbing and heating industry since 1954. He stated he was not aware of any failures of single wall coil heat exchangers that created health problems. He emphasized there was only a small degree of safety to be achieved with the double wall coil heat exchanger, with a very large expense. He asked how much safety the state and public could afford. In closing, he stated his belief that this and other codes should be adopted by the statutory process and not by regulation. Number 098 REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON asked if there was a scheduled date when the committee would be hearing HB 304 and HB 270. She asked if they would be meeting on Saturday. CHAIR JAMES replied that she did not plan to meet on Saturday, because there may be a conflict with the time of session. Thus, she was planning on these bills being rescheduled for Tuesday, April 25, 1995. She stated there would be a public notice of this meeting. REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG stated the Labor and Commerce committee heard substantial testimony on this bill and referred it to a subcommittee. He said they were trying to reach a compromise situation. He said the Labor and Commerce committee substitute for this bill: 1) Brings those installations of single wall heat exchangers up to code with the 1991 code; and 2) gives specific authority for municipal governments or boroughs with building codes to request a waiver for the use of single wall coil heat exchangers. The areas that are not covered under this version of the bill are those areas outside of these jurisdictions in the unorganized boroughs of the state or areas that are not covered by a building code, such as the Fairbanks North Star Borough. This was the compromise of the committee because of the concerns for public safety and the potential liability of the state in adopting a plumbing and making it applicable everywhere in the state. He said there was also testimony stating that the full exemption for single wall coil heat exchangers, as suggested by Chair James, would influence the code proceedings currently underway in the municipality of Anchorage, as they are between the board review and the assembly's adoption of the plumbing code in Anchorage. He thought they were pitting Anchorage against Fairbanks and a few outlying areas. After hearing the testimony, he hoped this committee would agree with the recommendations of the Labor and Commerce Committee, to meet over the interim and develop a regulatory system for all building codes and plumbing codes that would be adopted for the state and allow for an orderly procedure for local amendments under these codes. He stated this was their intention and the reason for the provision of a three year sunset of single wall coil heat exchangers. He said it was their intention to remove from the legislature this regulatory writing and their wasted time in discussing a local amendment to a building code. He added that the current regulatory procedure does not provide for the orderly review of building code amendments. He reemphasized that they allowed the municipalities to create waivers as they are restricted by state law to only adopt codes that are more stringent than that of the state law. He mentioned there were existing waivers and exemptions under current state statute. Under 18.60.710, there is the ability of the department administering the code to make exemptions from this code. He reiterated the intent of this bill was to adopt the Uniform Plumbing Code for Alaska. He was concerned about this bill getting caught up in controversy and not getting adopted. He suggested an amendment to page 3, line 8, Subsection B, under Section 4 of the Labor and Commerce committee substitute for HB 224, to add the language and the Department of Labor may grant an exemption under AS 18.60.710. This provision allows the department to take into consideration where implementation is impractical and special consideration to outlying villages and slightly populated areas. He stated he wanted to meet the concerns of Chair James, while not holding up this bill. He said that he had one final point, that this bill allowed for replacement of an existing system, during this three year period, with a single wall coil heat exchanger, but required new installations to be a double wall coil heat exchanger boiler system. This was his recommended fix for this problem, as opposed to Chair James' proposed amendment. Number 260 CHAIR JAMES responded that she agrees that the legislature should not be making regional exemptions. She said that was not her intent. Her intent was to have a state law that was at the minimum and not the maximum. She also stated that recognizing the diversity of this state, that as a legislator, she felt the legislature should be passing laws that were the lowest common denominator. She thought it should be expected that a law should be in effect for the entire state and if local areas wish to make their rules more strict, then they should have that right. She did not feel it was good public policy to set state law at the highest common denominator and then allow local governments to exempt themselves. She did not feel that issue was whether or not they were addressing a specific regional concern, but whether it was in the best interest of the state to have the lowest common denominator law and then allow the local municipalities to apply stricter standards, if appropriate. She reiterated that she agreed they should not be addressing a regional concern, and argued this was not what she was doing, but that she was putting forth a position of the lowest common denominator of law. She stated she thought the issue was how safe they could afford to be. Her personal philosophy with regard to rules, regulations and laws, was that the closer to the people they could get when making rules and regulations, the better they would be. Thus, she would hope to have most of those decisions made at the local level. She stated she would like to trust those people as they were closer to the people and this government was supposed to be of and by the people. Throughout the course of this session, she had been trying to make regulations less restrictive and more responsive to the public and with legislative oversight. She stated this bill was in opposition to her personal philosophy, in that it gives carte blanche authority to the Department of Labor to write these regulations, without any mechanism for legislative oversight. Thus, she opposes implementing any code by regulation, believing it is something the legislature should be listening to the entire state on. She also disagreed that they could not make a good decision, as they were not plumbers or mechanical contractors. She said that was why they had the public process to take testimony from experts in the community. She thought that as legislators, they have been assigned to make decisions on what state laws are necessary, and should feel competent to make those decisions. She stated she would take Representative Rokebergs recommendations under advisement and hold this bill until the next meeting, as they were out of time. Number 332 REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG mentioned that he understood it was necessary to move this bill quickly, in order to accommodate those people that were not in compliance with the 1991 code. He pointed out that under the 1991 code, single wall coil heat exchangers are absolutely forbidden in this state, without exception. CHAIR JAMES agreed this was the case, but stated it was a matter of whether you wanted to take the pill with water or whether you want to take the pill with sour grapes. She reminded the committee that the only reason this bill was filed, as testified by the sponsor, was to allow the Department of Labor to adopt the updated 1994 plumbing code by regulation. She said that the issue of single wall or double wall coil heat exchangers had not been a problem, as the Department of Labor had not been active in enforcing penalties for violations of this section of the code. She stated that the people in her district were willing to continue with the status quo and work on this problem in the interim. Should there be resistance to a solution that is the lowest common denominator, then maybe the other alternative is to do nothing at all. Number 360 REPRESENTATIVE KOHRING reminded the committee that they were just simply trying to upgrade the code and that the Department of Labor already had a version of the code they were currently administering. He felt Representative Rokebergs suggestions were reasonable solutions to this issue. CHAIR JAMES said the language was not before her, and she hesitated to make a conceptual decision on an issue that was so substantial. She stated she would be willing to look at this language, once it was drafted, and see if it is a fair solution. She was also concerned whether they could legally allow municipalities to take a lesser standard than that of the state. Should that be the intent, she did not feel that it would work. Secondly, she was concerned that this bill would obligate the Department of Labor to enforce the entire Uniform Plumbing Code, without exception. Additionally, the question needed to be answered whether there could be a waiver granted for the whole municipality, or whether it would need to be granted on a case-by-case basis. She thought a waiver was intended to be granted to a particular person and not a particular situation. She said those were her questions, but she would be willing to look at their recommendations and see if there was a way to find a workable compromise. REPRESENTATIVE KOHRING requested the committee hear this bill at the next meeting, as it was his understanding that this bill would pass out at this meeting. CHAIR JAMES replied that was her intent, but things did not work out. REPRESENTATIVE KOHRING stated they would have the recommended language drafted for the next meeting. CHAIR JAMES said she would appreciate that and stated she would be willing to work with him to try and find a solution to present at the next meeting.