WASHINGTON–Industry groups are voicing their support for legislation introduced in the House Monday that would encourage states to strengthen their building codes.
“The purpose for this legislation is to provide incentives for states to adopt higher building code standards, which will ultimately help preserve property, promote public safety, and make Americans and America’s communities safer,” said Rep. Doris Matsui, D-Calif., in introducing the legislation. The bill, known as H.R. 3926 or the Building Code State Incentive Act of 2007, is also sponsored by Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla.
“Building codes use a tried and true format to document the reasonable steps that can be taken while new construction is underway to protect our neighbors and their communities from risks that, because they can be foreseen, can and should be minimized,” Rep. Matsui added.
He said the codes are the “‘ounce of prevention’ that is worth far more than any after-the-fact pound of cure, which must otherwise be borne by people and communities after they’ve suffered through a tragic loss of life, stability and treasured belongings and memories.”
Ben McKay, senior vice president of federal government relations for the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America, said the measure was “good public policy” and praised Reps. Matsui and Diaz-Balart for introducing it.
“By making buildings stronger and families safer, we can reduce damages from future disasters and help stabilize markets in catastrophe-prone regions,” he said. “Enacting stronger business codes and encouraging greater pre-planning is a positive step, and we urge Congress to enact this bill as expeditiously as possible.”
Rewarding states that choose to enact strong building codes is common sense, argued Justin Roth, senior federal affairs director for the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies.
“It is clear when looking at states that have adopted strong building codes, the homes built after codes were adopted survive storms much better than those homes built before the codes,” he said.
Under the bill, the amount of money available to a state under current disaster relief legislation would be increased by 4 percent if they adopt and enforce nationally recognized building codes. Currently, a wide spectrum of building codes are in place that vary from state to state, and often between different jurisdictions in a single state.
“We view this legislation as a win for everyone,” Mr. Roth said. “Homeowners with homes built according to stronger codes will see less damage to their homes following storms, while taxpayers will also save money by not having to pay out as much in future disaster aid to those states that have stronger codes.”