Legislature(2001 - 2002)

04/01/2002 03:20 PM L&C

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HB 399-UNIFORM MECHANICAL CODE                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
[Contains discussion pertaining to HB 436 and HB 437]                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  MURKOWSKI  announced  that  the first  order  of  business                                                               
before  the  committee would  be  HOUSE  BILL  NO. 399,  "An  Act                                                               
relating to the  Uniform Mechanical Code and  other safety codes;                                                               
annulling  certain  regulations  adopted  by  the  Department  of                                                               
Community  and Economic  Development relating  to the  mechanical                                                               
code  that  applies  to   certain  construction  contractors  and                                                               
mechanical administrators; and providing  for an effective date."                                                               
[HB 399  was sponsored by  the House Rules Standing  Committee by                                                               
request  of  the  Joint Committee  on  Administrative  Regulation                                                               
Review.]                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Number 0226                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG, speaking as  the chair of the mechanical                                                               
code subcommittee, informed the committee  that by a vote of 2-1,                                                               
the subcommittee had amended Version F.   There was a new Version                                                               
J,  which the  subcommittee  recommended to  the full  committee.                                                               
Version  J  amends  AS  08.40.490(3) so  that  reference  to  the                                                               
Uniform Mechanical Code  is deleted and the  division is directed                                                               
to  refer to  the mechanical  code adopted  by the  Department of                                                               
Public Safety  (DPS); it  annuls the  regulations adopted  by the                                                               
Division of Occupational Licensing -  12 AAC 21.990(7) and 12 AAC                                                               
39.992(b); from the effective date  through December 31, 2003, it                                                               
permits applicants  for a  mechanical administrator's  license to                                                               
be tested  on either the  1997 edition of the  Uniform Mechanical                                                               
Code (UMC)  or the 2000  edition of the  International Mechanical                                                               
Code  (IMC)  -  applicant's  choice; and  it  adds  an  immediate                                                               
effective date.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG  noted that the Division  of Occupational                                                               
Licensing currently  administers the  [IMC exam] and  would check                                                               
on the  costs to go back  to the old  [UMC].  He stated,  "At the                                                               
time, the contracted  test service only charged $100  for the '97                                                               
UMC  to be  taken."   He  surmised that  there  shouldn't be  any                                                               
problem with doing that again, but said it hadn't been verified.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Number 0435                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  ROKEBERG moved  to  adopt CSHB  399, version  22-                                                               
LS1461\J,  Bannister, 3/28/02,  as the  working document.   There                                                               
being no objection, Version J was before the committee.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Number 0467                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR MURKOWSKI asked  what will happen after  December 31, 2003,                                                               
because up  to that date an  applicant can choose either  the UMC                                                               
exam or the IMC exam.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   ROKEBERG   explained   that  the   Division   of                                                               
Occupational  Licensing will  administer the  IMC [exam],  unless                                                               
the legislature changes that.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Number 0505                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR MURKOWSKI  said it wasn't  clear to her in  reading through                                                               
[HB 399] what  will happen after year-end 2003.   She asked if HB
436 and HB 437 were still being reviewed.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG explained, "Section  1 indicates it's the                                                               
code adopted  by the  Department of Public  Safety at  that time,                                                               
and  then  the uncodified  law  in  Section  3 explains  how  the                                                               
process is  to be  done.  It  defaults in Section  1 back  to the                                                               
IMC."                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Number 0558                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR MURKOWSKI said it's "less than clear."                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG  offered that  it is  because of  the way                                                               
it's  drafted.   He noted  that  the UMC  has been  taken out  of                                                               
Section  1 and  that  new  language has  been  added:   "and  the                                                           
mechanical code adopted by the  Department of Public Safety under                                                           
AS 18.70.080;".  Currently, the adopted  codes are IMC codes.  He                                                           
referred to  Section 3,  which explains  the timeframe  and gives                                                               
direction to  the Division  of Occupational  Licensing as  to the                                                               
election of either examination by the applicant.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR MURKOWSKI  asked if the Division  of Occupational Licensing                                                               
had confirmed whether the 1997 [UMC] test would be available.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   ROKEBERG  said   that  is   the  only   question                                                               
outstanding at this juncture.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Number 0620                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CATHERINE   REARDON,   Director,     Division   of   Occupational                                                               
Licensing, Department   of Community   &  Economic   Development,                                                               
informed  the   committee  that  the  division   has  asked  "the                                                               
contractor"  and  hasn't  received  an  answer.    She  said  the                                                               
Division of  Occupational Licensing was offering  the [1997 exam]                                                               
as recently as September.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG  asked if the administration  fee for the                                                               
1997 UMC exam was $100.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MS. REARDON replied in the  affirmative, adding that the division                                                               
also charges $100  for the IMC test.  In  further reply, she said                                                               
the contractor charges the division $100.   The fee was $75 under                                                               
the  last  contract.    The reason  the  contractor  charges  the                                                               
division  for  rewriting  the  exam  is  because  the  contractor                                                               
doesn't make enough from the $100 fees.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Number 0704                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  ROKEBERG asked  Ms.  Reardon if  she would  "feel                                                               
bad" about  negotiating with the contractors  for re-establishing                                                               
the 1997 UMC exam for $100.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MS.  REARDON  said  she  doesn't  have  any  problem  asking  the                                                               
contractors to do  that.  She speculated that it  wouldn't be too                                                               
difficult  for the  division to  offer  [applicants] the  choice.                                                               
There  is  the public  policy  question  for the  legislature  to                                                               
determine whether or  not the division should be  testing on both                                                               
[sets of mechanical codes] if only one is in effect.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Number 0739                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  MURKOWSKI asked  when the  new, revised  UMC test  will be                                                               
released.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MS. REARDON explained  that the test revisions  were triggered by                                                               
the division's  asking the  testing company  to revise  the exam.                                                               
The code updates  occur every three years.  She  said the initial                                                               
price  in  the fiscal  note  -  $40,000 -  was  a  result of  the                                                               
division's  asking the  testing  company what  it  would cost  to                                                               
write an exam for the 2000  UMC.  She speculated that the testing                                                               
company could  do that now,  but that  the 1997 exam  is probably                                                               
still available.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Number 0797                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG asked if the  testing process to become a                                                               
mechanical   administrator  requires   a   one-time  test,   with                                                               
continuing education to follow.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MS.  REARDON replied  in  the  affirmative.   She  added that  [a                                                               
person who lets his/her license]  lapse without renewal will have                                                               
to retake the exam.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
Number 0879                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE HAYES  stated his concern over  "what the practice                                                               
is versus what's  in statute," and said a lot  of communities are                                                               
currently  doing work  against  the statutes.    He offered  that                                                               
there is "a lot of work  being done under the ICBO [International                                                               
Conference of Building Officials], but  in our statutes we have a                                                               
totally different book that we have in law."                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  ROKEBERG  said the  IMC,  which  is part  of  the                                                               
regulations adopted by the DPS, is  now the state standard and is                                                               
also the  ICBO standard.  He  stated, "We are working  on another                                                               
bill to try to resolve this."                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Number 0960                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE HAYES asked  if there is "a lot of  work" that has                                                               
been done  using a different method  than what is in  the current                                                               
statutes.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  ROKEBERG replied  in  the negative  and asked  if                                                               
Representative Hayes was referring to  work done under the IMC or                                                               
the UMC.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE HAYES replied, "The international."                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG said the IMC  has now been adopted by the                                                               
State of Alaska as the standard.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  HAYES  responded,  "In   regulation  but  not  in                                                               
statute.   Isn't  that  the whole  argument of  why  we have  [HB
399]?"                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Number 1069                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG  moved to adopt  Amendment 22-LS1461\J.1,                                                               
Bannister, 3/28/02, which read:                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
     Page 2, following line 6:                                                                                                  
          Insert a new bill section to read:                                                                                    
        "* Sec. 2.  AS 18.56.300(e)(3) is amended to read:                                                                    
               (3)  "state building code" means                                                                                 
               (A)  for building standards, the standards                                                                       
     set out  in the  version of  the Uniform  Building Code                                                                    
     adopted  by  the  Department  of  Public  Safety  under                                                                    
     AS 18.70.080,  including the  provisions  of that  code                                                                    
     applicable to  buildings used for  residential purposes                                                                    
     containing    fewer   than    four   dwelling    units,                                                                    
     notwithstanding the  exclusion of those  buildings from                                                                    
     the Department of Public  Safety's jurisdiction made by                                                                    
     AS 18.70.080(a)(2);                                                                                                        
               (B)  for mechanical standards, the standards                                                                     
     set out in the mechanical  code [VERSION OF THE UNIFORM                                                                
     MECHANICAL CODE]  adopted by  the Department  of Public                                                                    
     Safety under AS 18.70.080,  including the provisions of                                                                    
     that code applicable to  buildings used for residential                                                                    
     purposes  containing fewer  than  four dwelling  units,                                                                    
     notwithstanding the  exclusion of those  buildings from                                                                    
     the Department of Public  Safety's jurisdiction made by                                                                    
     AS 18.70.080(a)(2);                                                                                                        
               (C)  for plumbing standards, the minimum                                                                         
     plumbing   code    adopted   for   the    state   under                                                                    
     AS 18.60.705; and                                                                                                          
               (D)  for electrical standards, the minimum                                                                       
     electrical standards prescribed by AS 18.60.580."                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
     Renumber the following bill sections accordingly.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  ROKEBERG  explained   that  Amendment  J.1  would                                                               
clarify  those provisions  that  relate to  AHFC [Alaska  Housing                                                               
Finance Corporation].   Referring to AS  18.56.300(e)(3), he said                                                               
the amendment would adopt a  "generic" mechanical code and delete                                                               
the specific  reference to a  "version of the  Uniform Mechanical                                                               
Code."    He  explained  that  this would  default  back  to  the                                                               
Department  of  Public  Safety's  adoption  by  regulation.    He                                                               
offered that as a matter of  policy he doesn't want to leave [the                                                               
issue] out there as a regulatory matter.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Number 1080                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  HALCRO objected  for the  purpose of  discussion.                                                               
He said this  amendment wasn't discussed in  the subcommittee; he                                                               
asked Representative Rokeberg to explain further.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG  explained that  there are  some specific                                                               
references in the  AHFC statute to the UMC.   Through adoption of                                                               
Amendment  J.1, the  statute  reverts to  generic  language.   He                                                               
explained that if DPS were to  change the code adopted, then this                                                               
would  automatically change  also, without  having to  change the                                                               
statute again.  He noted  that AHFC had requested this amendment;                                                               
it  wasn't   discussed  in  the   subcommittee  because   he  was                                                               
approached by AHFC after the meeting on this specific matter.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Number 1184                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR MURKOWSKI  said it seems  to make sense based  on testimony                                                               
heard  from Mr.  Bitney.    She said  [Amendment  J.1] clears  up                                                               
ambiguity in this particular statute,  but asked if there are any                                                               
"loose ends" in other areas of the statute.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  ROKEBERG  responded  that the  primary  issue  is                                                               
whether  adoption   of  the  building   codes  should   become  a                                                               
legislative   issue  or   should  be   "bequeathed  ...   to  the                                                               
departments."   He  explained that  currently  the Department  of                                                               
Labor  and  Workforce  Development  and  DPS  are  both  adopting                                                               
[regulations]   under  statutory   authority.      He  said   the                                                               
subcommittee is working on trying  to bring that together under a                                                               
central umbrella.   He suggested  this is a  noncontroversial fix                                                               
to the statute.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Number 1276                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  CRAWFORD offered  that  the  question is  whether                                                               
"we're talking  about the status  quo ... since September  or ...                                                               
before  September" when  the  UMC was  in statute.    He said  he                                                               
doesn't  like the  status quo  since September,  and he  felt the                                                               
[UMC]  should have  been enforced  until the  legislature changed                                                               
it, and not the state fire marshal.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  ROKEBERG  agreed,  but  offered that  this  is  a                                                               
practical  situation that  was handed  to the  legislature as  "a                                                               
fait accompli", and he doesn't like  that.  He explained that [HB
399] does  ratify the IMC  and not the UMC.   He agreed  that the                                                               
legislature  needs to  retain  its authority  to  select a  code.                                                               
Representative Rokeberg added:                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
     What I  aim to bring out  to this committee is,  ... an                                                                    
     umbrella agency should have all  the codes together and                                                                    
     the  legislature  should   stipulate  what  codes  they                                                                    
     should be.  And the  cyclical editions that are adopted                                                                    
     should  be up  to the  ... administration.   You  don't                                                                    
     need  to  come  back  to the  legislature  and  do  the                                                                    
     cyclical updates.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Number 1422                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  MURKOWSKI asked  if Representative  Halcro maintained  his                                                               
objection to Amendment J.1.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE HALCRO responded in the negative.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR MURKOWSKI announced that there  being no further objection,                                                               
Amendment J.1 was adopted.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Number 1440                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  ROKEBERG moved  to report  CSHB 399  [version 22-                                                               
LS1461\J, Bannister,  3/28/02, as amended] out  of committee with                                                               
individual  recommendations and  the  accompanying fiscal  notes.                                                               
There  being no  objection, CSHB  399(L&C) was  moved out  of the                                                               
House Labor and Commerce Standing Committee.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                

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