Legislature(2017 - 2018)BARNES 124

01/27/2017 03:15 PM LABOR & COMMERCE

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Audio Topic
03:17:32 PM Start
03:17:56 PM Presentation on Residential Building Codes By: Max Mielke, Alaska Plumbers & Pipefitters
04:02:53 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
+ Residential Building Codes by: TELECONFERENCED
Max Mielke, AK Plumbers & Pipefitters
-- Testimony <Invitation Only> --
-- Public Testimony --
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
          HOUSE LABOR AND COMMERCE STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                         
                        January 27, 2017                                                                                        
                           3:17 p.m.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Representative Sam Kito, Chair                                                                                                  
Representative Adam Wool, Vice Chair                                                                                            
Representative Andy Josephson                                                                                                   
Representative Louise Stutes                                                                                                    
Representative Chris Birch                                                                                                      
Representative Colleen Sullivan-Leonard                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Representative Gary Knopp                                                                                                       
Representative Bryce Edgmon (alternate)                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
PRESENTATION ON RESIDENTIAL BUILDING CODES BY: MAX MIELKE,                                                                      
ALASKA PLUMBERS & PIPEFITTERS                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
     - HEARD                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
No previous action to record                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
MAX MIELKE                                                                                                                      
Alaska Plumbers & Pipefitters, Local 262                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Gave a presentation on residential building                                                              
codes.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
BRAD AUSTIN, Training Coordinator                                                                                               
Alaska Plumbers & Pipefitters, Local 262                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Offered information during a presentation                                                                
on residential building codes and licensing.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
WENDELL WHISTLER, Alaska Joint Electrical Apprenticeship                                                                        
Training & Trust                                                                                                                
Fairbanks, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified on residential building codes.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
JOHN PLUTT, Training Director                                                                                                   
Plumbers  & Pipefitters  Apprenticeship  and Journeyman  Training                                                               
Center                                                                                                                          
Fairbanks, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified on residential building codes.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
WALTER ROBINSON, Business Representative                                                                                        
International  Brotherhood of  Electrical  Workers (IBEW),  Local                                                               
1547                                                                                                                            
Fairbanks, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:   Testified on behalf of the  IBEW 1547 about                                                             
residential building codes.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
DOUG TANSY, Business Representative                                                                                             
International  Brotherhood of  Electrical  Workers (IBEW),  Local                                                               
1547                                                                                                                            
Fairbanks, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified about residential building codes.                                                              
                                                                                                                                
WAYLON KNUDSEN                                                                                                                  
Palmer, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified about residential building codes.                                                              
                                                                                                                                
PATRICK DALTON                                                                                                                  
Delta Junction, Alaska                                                                                                          
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified about residential building codes.                                                              
                                                                                                                                
BRANDON MCGUIRE, Organizer                                                                                                      
Alaska Plumbers & Pipefitters, Local 367                                                                                        
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified about residential building codes.                                                              
                                                                                                                                
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
3:17:32 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  SAM KITO  called  the House  Labor  and Commerce  Standing                                                             
Committee meeting  to order at  3:17 p.m.   Representatives Wool,                                                               
Josephson,  Stutes,   Birch,  Sullivan-Leonard,  and   Kito  were                                                               
present at the call to order.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
^PRESENTATION  ON  RESIDENTIAL  BUILDING CODES  BY:  MAX  MIELKE,                                                               
ALASKA PLUMBERS & PIPEFITTERS                                                                                                   
   PRESENTATION ON RESIDENTIAL BUILDING CODES BY: MAX MIELKE,                                                               
                 ALASKA PLUMBERS & PIPEFITTERS                                                                              
                                                                                                                              
3:17:56 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  KITO  announced the  only  order  of business  before  the                                                               
committee would be a presentation on residential building codes.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
3:18:47 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MAX  MIELKE, Alaska  Plumbers &  Pipefitters, Local  262, gave  a                                                               
presentation  on  residential building  codes.    He stated  that                                                               
Alaska Plumbers  & Pipefitters,  Local 262,  does not  oppose, in                                                               
general,  the  adoption  of the  International  Residential  Code                                                               
(IRC) and  would support and help  that decision.  He  stated his                                                               
desire  to include  the Universal  Plumbing Code  (UPC) with  any                                                               
adoption of the IRC.   He stated the UPC has  been used in Alaska                                                               
for over  40 years.  Mr.  Mielke stated that the  codes work well                                                               
for  the  construction  industry and  licensing  provisions,  but                                                               
there are  some gaps.   Currently there  are over  6,000 licensed                                                               
plumbers  and   electricians  in  Alaska  and   1,500  mechanical                                                               
electrical and  mechanical administrators  that use  "the codes."                                                               
Codes  are important  for licensed  plumbers  to ensure  plumbing                                                               
systems are installed correctly.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
3:22:48 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR. MIELKE  stated that  the UPC and  the National  Electric Code                                                               
(NEC) use  the most up  to date technology and  safety provisions                                                               
anywhere  in  the  world  and  meet  American  National  Standard                                                               
Institute  (ANSI)  standards.    He asserted  that  licensing  is                                                               
important for public safety and health.   If the IRC were adopted                                                               
without  licensing provisions  for the  UPC or  NEC, it  would be                                                               
confusing.    Alaska certificates  of  fitness  are required  for                                                               
electrical and plumbing work in the state.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
3:24:33 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
BRAD   AUSTIN,   Training    Coordinator,   Alaska   Plumbers   &                                                               
Pipefitters,  Local  262,  stated  that  the  qualifications  for                                                               
plumbing  and electrical  licenses  include  completion of  8,000                                                               
training hours,  upon which the  person is  issued a card  by the                                                               
state.   After the 8,000 hours,  one can take the  state plumbing                                                               
or electrical test  to attain a certificate of  fitness, which is                                                               
required before  working for  hire.  He  explained that  a person                                                               
can plumb and wire his/her  own house without the certifications.                                                               
Mechanical  Administrators must  have an  administrator's license                                                               
in order to perform work.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
3:25:57 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  BIRCH   asked  how  publically   funded  projects                                                               
outside an organized municipality are currently monitored.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MR.  AUSTIN stated  that the  Fire Marshall  is involved  in plan                                                               
review.    Specifications  in the  plan  require  licensing,  and                                                               
mechanical  contractors must  prove  their  licensing, which  the                                                               
state   or  city   will  have   owner  representatives   monitor.                                                               
Engineering   inspections  are   completed   by  architects   and                                                               
engineers.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
3:27:38 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  WOOL   asked  Mr.   Mielke  if  he   opposes  the                                                               
implementation of  the IBC  codes and carving  out a  portion for                                                               
the UPC.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MR. MIELKE  clarified that the  plumbing and  electrical portions                                                               
of the  IRC do not  include licensing  provisions.  He  stated he                                                               
would like the UPC to fit into that.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
3:28:34 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  KITO asked  if  all municipalities  that  adopt their  own                                                               
building codes use the UPC.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR. AUSTIN answered  yes.  He added that  Anchorage adopted codes                                                               
through  Title  23,  and  any   reference  to  the  International                                                               
Plumbing Code or other codes reference  the UPC.  The adoption of                                                               
the  IRC  by  the  Department of  Public  Safety  references  the                                                               
statute  that  adopts the  UPC.    He  stated  that is  a  pretty                                                               
standard process.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR KITO asked  if that is the case for  residential codes that                                                               
are adopted by municipalities.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MR.  AUSTIN  answered   yes,  and  added  that   the  UPC  covers                                                               
residential and commercial.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  KITO asked  if licensed  plumbers  in Alaska  are able  to                                                               
construct a facility in accordance with the IRC.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MR. AUSTIN answered that of  the 6,000, about 1,200 are plumbers;                                                               
the rest  are electricians.   He stated that  he is not  sure how                                                               
using  an  international plumbing  code  mixed  in with  the  UPC                                                               
licensing  would  work.   He  noted  there are  many  differences                                                               
between the two codes regarding drainage and venting.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
3:31:11 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR. MIELKE added  that the IRC is a less  stringent code than the                                                               
UPC.  He stated the IRC would  not meet the same standards as the                                                               
UPC.                                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR KITO  asked if the  plumbing portion of  the IRC is  not as                                                               
safe as the uniform code standard.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
MR. MIELKE answered  that he would have safety  concerns with the                                                               
plumbing portion of the IRC.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
3:32:33 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE JOSEPHSON  asked if adopting the  IRC would reduce                                                               
quality in  other specialties.   He  stated that  the aim  of the                                                               
potential  legislation is  to improve  quality, and  he asked  if                                                               
adopting the IRC would reduce quality in all specialties.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
3:33:29 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR. AUSTIN  answered that there  are differences in  the plumbing                                                               
sections of the codes and he  is unsure of other specialties, but                                                               
he  doesn't think  there is  an issue  with building  codes.   He                                                               
stated a  code is not  instructions for  a lay person  to follow;                                                               
it's very  trade specific.   He stated his concern  regarding the                                                               
differences  between  the  UPC  and the  IRC  for  plumbing,  and                                                               
suggested  his preference  to  implement code  the  same way  the                                                               
state adopted the international building  code.  In the IRC there                                                               
are mechanical systems  which the state has already  adopted.  He                                                               
added that  in addition to  the UPC, other adopted  codes include                                                               
the Uniform Swimming Pool, Spa, and  Hot Tub Code and the Uniform                                                               
Solar Energy  Code.  He stated  that there is likely  also a fuel                                                               
and oil code.   He compared the  IRC to a spider web,  in that it                                                               
tries to  cover everything  on the building  side.   He suggested                                                               
that codes be referred to the departments of each specialty.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
3:35:54 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  WOOL   asked  whether   the  plumbing   trade  is                                                               
consistent across the state.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR. AUSTIN  answered that plumbing,  using the UPC  is efficient,                                                               
fast, and  technologically current.   He informed that  codes are                                                               
updated every three years.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
3:37:31 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR KITO opened public testimony.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
3:38:18 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
WENDELL   WHISTLER,   Alaska  Joint   Electrical   Apprenticeship                                                               
Training  & Trust,  testified about  residential building  codes.                                                               
He stated  that the  international codes are  a weakening  of the                                                               
electrical  codes.   In  Fairbanks,  there are  a  lot of  unique                                                               
geographical issues,  so local amendments within  the city limits                                                               
strengthen the national electric code.   He stated his opposition                                                               
to adopting the  electrical portion of the IRC.   He acknowledged                                                               
that if the  infrastructure of a building is weak,  then there is                                                               
no ability to expand or  modify without major reconstruction.  He                                                               
implored the committee to maintain NEC as the standard.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
3:41:10 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
JOHN   PLUTT,   Training   Director,   Plumbers   &   Pipefitters                                                               
Apprenticeship  and Journeyman  Training Center,  testified about                                                               
residential building codes.   He stated that  members of Plumbers                                                               
& Pipefitters have been trained on  the UPC since its adoption in                                                               
the State  of Alaska.  In  the Interior of Alaska,  there are 300                                                               
state  plumbing  license  holders   and  another  90  apprentices                                                               
working to  attain that license.   He stated his belief  that the                                                               
UPC is  a superior code to  any other code, particularly  the "I-                                                               
codes." The training  for plumbing licensure must  be approved by                                                               
the State of  Alaska, costs $100 per year, and  requires 16 hours                                                               
of training  every two  years.  The  training allows  plumbers to                                                               
get  familiar with  new technologies  and  updates in  code.   He                                                               
informed that  the "I-codes" are  less stringent.  In  the colder                                                               
weather of the  Interior, the City of Fairbanks  uses the uniform                                                               
plumbing codes and adds further  requirements.  He stated that he                                                               
is  not in  favor of  any  code to  take  the place  of the  UPC.                                                               
Changing the code would require a large cost and new training.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
3:44:06 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
WALTER    ROBINSON,   Business    Representative,   International                                                               
Brotherhood of  Electrical Workers (IBEW), Local  1547, testified                                                               
on behalf of IBEW 1547 about the  use of the IRC.  He stated that                                                               
he  is not  opposed to  the use  of the  IRC so  long as  the NEC                                                               
remains the  standard for electrical  work in  residential homes.                                                               
The NEC  is the standard  in Alaska, is what  Alaska's electrical                                                               
workforce  has  trained   and  tested  on,  and   is  a  standard                                                               
throughout the nation.  He observed  that last year Alaska had 17                                                               
fatalities  from electrical  fires  in homes.    He expressed  it                                                               
would  not  be wise  or  ethical  to  lower the  electrical  work                                                               
standards for the state.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
3:45:42 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
DOUG  TANSY, Business  Representative, International  Brotherhood                                                               
of Electrical Workers  (IBEW), Local 1547, testified  in favor of                                                               
keeping the  NEC as the  standard for electrical work  in Alaska.                                                               
He added that more oversight  and inspection from the state would                                                               
avoid home fires  and fatalities.  He urged  striving towards the                                                               
highest standards for the safety of Alaskans.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
3:47:19 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE WOOL asked  Mr. Tansy if he would  support the IRC                                                               
if the NEC is used for electrical standards.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR. TANSY  answered that is correct.   He stated the  IRC is fine                                                               
as  long as  nothing is  done to  weaken electrical  standards or                                                               
plumbing standards.   The NEC  was created as a  safety provision                                                               
for the  safe installation of  electrical work -  the residential                                                               
code is  a weakening of the  standard.  He added  that additional                                                               
codes are okay  for the electrical professionals, as  long as the                                                               
code is not changed from the NEC to the IRC.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   WOOL   offered   his  understanding   that   the                                                               
testifiers, both  plumbers and electricians,  agree that  the IRC                                                               
is less stringent  than the current codes in use.   He summarized                                                               
the  witnesses'   statements  that  the  international   code  is                                                               
generally supported, but not for  their specific trade.  He asked                                                               
for confirmation that  the NEC and UPC codes  are more stringent,                                                               
that that is how the professionals  are trained and how they want                                                               
to continue to work.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MR.  TANSY stated  that is  correct for  plumbing and  electrical                                                               
trades,  but he  is  not  sure how  the  IRC  would affect  other                                                               
building trades.  He reiterated that  the NEC is the higher level                                                               
standard.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
3:50:14 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE BIRCH stated his  understanding that the potential                                                               
legislation aims  to introduce some  structure and  guidelines in                                                               
areas without guidelines, particularly in  rural areas.  He asked                                                               
what  the  cost  differential  is,  and  asked  for  Mr.  Tansy's                                                               
perspective  on  introducing  the   IRC  in  places  without  any                                                               
standard code.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MR.  TANSY replied  that the  state does  have structure  for all                                                               
electrical and plumbing work through  licensing requirements.  He                                                               
stated  his understanding  that other  parts of  the homebuilding                                                               
industry may not  have structure, but there  already is structure                                                               
with testing and licensing requirements of the UPC and IRC.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
3:52:11 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
WAYLON KNUDSEN  testified about residential  building codes.   He                                                               
stated that  as an electrician, he  is required to have  16 hours                                                               
of continuing education to retain  both his NEC based license and                                                               
fire  alarm safety  license.   Both  licenses are  based off  the                                                               
national  codes, not  the international  codes.   The codes  have                                                               
major differences  in safety.   He stated that the  current codes                                                               
ensure  safe installation  and are  specific  to electrical  work                                                               
nationally and  locally.  He  informed that state  building codes                                                               
apply statewide,  though some  local municipalities  and boroughs                                                               
adopt specific codes and standards.   He stated his opposition to                                                               
adopting international  codes for the electrical  trade, as doing                                                               
so  would reduce  quality of  installations in  Alaska and  would                                                               
open  the  door for  unlicensed  electricians  to perform  unsafe                                                               
installations in the state.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
3:54:18 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
PATRICK DALTON  testified about residential  building codes.   He                                                               
stated the  proposed legislation would impose  a uniform building                                                               
system upon  unorganized and unrepresented  areas of Alaska.   He                                                               
pointed out that  organized areas are able  to establish building                                                               
codes according to (indisc.) and  constituents, which is a system                                                               
that works  and doesn't need fixing.   He requested a  poll about                                                               
implementing a statewide  system, and he predicted  that those in                                                               
favor would  be from organized areas  of the state.   He declared                                                               
that according  to the Alaska Constitution,  the legislature acts                                                               
as the borough assembly for  unorganized areas.  Therefore, it is                                                               
the duty  of members of the  legislature to put aside  the wishes                                                               
of their own districts to  see what the unorganized boroughs want                                                               
and need.  He suggested  that current organized areas should have                                                               
uniform systems,  but unorganized areas  should be left out.   He                                                               
stated he is  a member of an  established voluntary international                                                               
system that  could be  a model  for a voluntary  type of  code to                                                               
give people the  option to comply voluntarily  with a residential                                                               
code.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
3:57:29 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  KITO  asked  for  an  explanation  and  the  name  of  the                                                               
voluntary  code available  to  people  building in  non-municipal                                                               
areas.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MR.  DALTON  stated   he  builds  log  cabins   and  follows  the                                                               
International  Log  Building  Association's standards.    It's  a                                                               
voluntary   organization  that   has  established   international                                                               
building  codes for  log building.   Log  builders who  join, pay                                                               
fees, and become certified are  established with the association.                                                               
He  suggested setting  up a  similar statewide  organization with                                                               
certification cards that would  incentivize reputable builders to                                                               
become certified.   This would take the financial  burden off the                                                               
State of Alaska.   He added that implementing  a statewide system                                                               
in  rural areas  wouldn't  work,  would be  very  costly, and  is                                                               
unwanted.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
3:59:25 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
BRANDON MCGUIRE, Organizer, Alaska  Plumbers & Pipefitters, Local                                                               
367,  stated  his opposition  towards  a  move  from UPC  to  the                                                               
international code  for the plumbing  industry.  He  mentioned he                                                               
has  spoken to  many people  involved in  the plumbing  industry,                                                               
including  from Flint,  Michigan,  who told  him first-hand  what                                                               
happens  when you  take  for  granted the  health  and safety  of                                                               
community  water  and  waste  systems.     He  compared  the  two                                                               
different code books [UPC and IRC] -  one is half as thick as the                                                               
other  because it  is  not  nearly as  stringent.   Removing  the                                                               
current policies will reduce safety  for citizens.  He reiterated                                                               
that he is not in favor of moving from UPC to IRC.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
4:01:48 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR KITO clarified that the  committee is looking at adopting a                                                               
statewide  residential building  code.   He stated  the committee                                                               
has  heard  interest  in  having   the  plumbing  and  electrical                                                               
components be  assigned to the UPC  and the NEC.   He stated that                                                               
there is no  plan to changing the codes that  exist already for a                                                               
fourplex and above.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
4:02:35 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR KITO closed public testimony.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
4:02:53 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ADJOURNMENT                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
There being no further business before the committee, the House                                                                 
Labor & Commerce Standing Committee meeting was adjourned at                                                                    
4:03 p.m.                                                                                                                       

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