WASHINGTON (November 5, 2009) The Building Code Coalition (BCC) today applauded the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee for unanimously voting to approve HR 3377, the Disaster Response, Recovery, and Mitigation Enhancement Act of 2009.
Legislation enacting the Coalition’s goal of adoption and enforcement of nationally recognized, statewide building codes was incorporated into HR 3377, a broad bill that addresses pre-disaster mitigation sponsored by Committee Chairman James Oberstar, D-Minn., and Ranking Member John Mica, R-Fla. As with the original bill sponsored by Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., and Michael Arcuri, D- N.Y., the language included in HR 3377 would provide increased post-event aid for those states and municipalities that enact and enforce statewide building codes to ensure structures will survive a significant event.
“Strong building codes can save lives, reduce losses and save taxpayer money,” said John Prible, vice president of federal affairs for the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America. “The Building Code Coalition commends Chairman Oberstar, Ranking Member Mica, Congressman Diaz-Balart, Congressman Arcuri and the remaining committee members for their work on this important issue.”
The committee approved the bill unanimously by a voice vote, and it will now move to the House Floor for full consideration.
Under the proposed legislation, 13 states would qualify for the additional post-disaster aid, while 10 additional states could qualify with minor legislative modifications. Another eight states have adopted statewide codes, but lack enforcement authorization. “Unfortunately, the standards for building, inspection and enforcement vary widely from state to state," said Kathy Mitchell, federal affairs director for the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies and head of the BCC. “One of the best ways to incentivize states to act is by increasing the amount of post-event disaster aid available to them based on the adoption and enforcement of strong building codes. Incentivizing the adoption of statewide building codes, and ensuring they are enforced, could play a significant role in public safety and loss prevention, even in states that do not have a major natural disaster catastrophe exposure.”
The Louisiana State University Hurricane Center estimated that 80 percent of the $10 billion in wind damage to homes in Louisiana as a result of Hurricane Katrina would have been avoided with modern building codes, Mitchell explained. Overwhelming evidence shows that building codes are an effective way for government, insurance companies, and homeowners to save money.
The Coalition has also called on lawmakers in both the House and the Senate to pass the Building Code Administration Grant Act, which would provide matching federal grant money to help states administer and enforce building codes. “By providing local government the opportunity to get the additional funding they need to enforce their building codes, the Building Code Administration Grant Act can help reduce losses before a disaster hits,” said Ron Lynn, chief building official for Clark County, Nevada and president of the International Code Council. The Building Code Administration Grant Act, S. 970 and HR 2246, was introduced in May.
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