Lawmakers express concern with building code changes, ask for economic analysis

Kretz, Kristiansen say the State Building Code Council, governor overstepped

After a controversial decision to update the state’s building code without proper economic impact statements, Reps. Joel Kretz and Dan Kristiansen sent a letter to the Joint Administrative Rules and Review Committee (JARRC) asking for a thorough look at the impacts of the Washington State Building Code Council’s proposals.

The representatives contend that the Legislature set parameters this year when it passed Senate Bill 5854, and the governor signed it into law. The measure incrementally increases the energy efficiency codes for buildings beginning in 2013, with the goal of a 70 percent reduction in energy consumption by 2031. In direct conflict with the law, the governor requested the building code council to move the timeline up to require a 30 percent reduction in energy consumption for buildings by July 2010.

“We all want structures to be as energy efficient as possible, but for our part, the Legislature specifically outlined a start date of 2013 in recognition of the economy and the costs of these upgrades to employers and families,” said Kretz, deputy leader of the House Republicans. “The council and governor ignoring the law causes me great concern, but the fact that no real economic impact statement was done to ensure their proposal will not kill jobs and increase our already staggering unemployment rate is unacceptable.”

“I’m very concerned the unreasonable acceleration of this timeline would be unattainable for many manufacturers and the building trades. It could potentially eliminate jobs because they would not be able to comply with this directive,” said Kristiansen, who serves as House Republican Caucus chairman and is a former small-business owner in the construction industry.

“These new regulations also have the potential to pile astronomical costs onto the overall price of homes, further damaging the slumping housing industry and putting affordability out of the reach of many home buyers. Any savings in energy costs would be negated by the higher costs consumers would pay for these regulations,” added Kristiansen, R-Snohomish. “It’s unacceptable that the essential economic impact statements are being done in a mediocre fashion for political expediency. We should not ignore the effect the governor’s directive could have against jobs, especially when more than 300 thousand people in Washington are out of work.”

The two legislators asked JAARC to review the council’s regulations for the following reasons:

The small business economic impact statement fails to meet the statutory requirements and analyzes only five of more than 100 newly proposed changes, despite the council identifying more than 60 provisions in its plan that would have an economic impact. No potential job losses were calculated, despite the impact on 15,280 companies that would be affected.

The Legislature set the guidelines and timelines in Senate Bill 5854. Moving the timelines up without legislative authority sets a dangerous precedent and should be reviewed for legality.

State statute requires state agencies and regulators to do a cost-benefit analysis of all proposed regulations and adopt the least burdensome.

“It’s clear under the law the Legislature intended to take control of this issue and did not allow for the State Building Code Council to adopt sweeping changes to the energy code,” said Kretz, R-Wauconda. “New and costly mandates heaped onto employers may well be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. The timing is terrible and I hope a review of the regulations will encourage the council to back off such a poorly timed regulatory burden.”

The public hearings on the revisions to the building codes will be held Tuesday, Sept. 29, and Monday, Oct. 5, 2009. The Sept. 29 hearing will be held in Renton at 10 a.m. at the Renton Holiday Inn Select, Evergreen Ballroom, located at 1 South Grady Way. The Oct. 5 hearing will take place at 9 a.m. in Spokane at the Spokane City Hall, City Council Chambers, located at 808 W. Spokane Falls Boulevard.

# # #

For more information, contact: Bobbi Cussins, Public Information Officer: (360) 786-7252


Washington State House Republican Communications