House Bill 547 - Language Issues

Rep. Palmer has stated that this bill only applies to residential codes however the language seems to say different.  Below is why we think that it applies to all codes:

(2)  Local governments that issue building permits and perform building code enforcement activities shall, by ordinance effective January 1 of the year following the adoption by the Idaho building code board, adopt the following codes as published by the International Code Council together with any amendments or revisions set forth in section 39-4109, Idaho Code, including subsequent versions of the International Building Code as adopted and amended by the Idaho building code board through the negotiated rulemaking process provided in this chapter:

(a) International Building Code, including all rules promulgated by the board to provide equivalency with the provisions of the Americans with disabilities act accessibility guidelines and the federal fair housing act accessibility guidelines;

(b) Idaho residential code, parts I-IV III and IX; and

(c) Idaho energy conservation code. Local governments are not required by this chapter to adopt the other referenced codes in the International Building Code. Local governments shall not adopt provisions, chapters, sections or parts of subsequent versions of the International Residential Code or International Energy Conservation Code, or subsequent versions in their entirety that have not been adopted by the Idaho building code board, except as provided in subsection 4)(b) of this section.

This added language prohibits any changes to the IRC or IECC (commercial or residential)unless adopted by the state, as Rep. Palmer has stated

(4) Local governments may amend by ordinance the adopted codes or provisions of referenced codes to reflect local concerns, provided such amendments establish at least an equivalent level of protection to that of the adopted building code.

By removing this language from the law, the law now will remain silent on whether local governments can amend any other codes – it certainly does not specifically give a local government permission to do so as currently is stated.

A local jurisdiction shall not have the authority to amend any accessibility provision pursuant to section 39-4109, Idaho Code, except as provided in paragraphs (a) and (b) of this subsection.

(a) A local jurisdiction shall not have the authority to amend any accessibility provision pursuant to section 39-4109, Idaho Code. 44

(b) A local jurisdiction shall not adopt any provision, chapter, section or part of the International Building Code or Idaho residential code or appendices thereto, or subsequent versions in their entirety,  that has have not been adopted or that has have been expressly rejected or exempted from the adopted version of those codes by the Idaho building code board through the negotiated rulemaking process as provided in 50 section 39-4109, Idaho Code. Provided however, that, after a finding by the local jurisdiction that good cause an immediate threat to human life or safety exists for such and makes an amendment to such codes and that such amendment is reasonably necessary, and that such amendment establishes at least an equivalent level of protection to that of the adopted building codes, a local jurisdiction may adopt such provision by ordinance in accordance with the provisions of chapter 9, title 50. . . . . .

While the deleted language above is unclear as to whether the commercial codes  can be amended, the highlighted language is very clear that the IBC cannot be amended from what the state does at the local level unless an ”immediate threat to human life or safety exists.”  

Codes cannot logically address “immediate threats” – their whole purpose is to anticipate and address threats before they occur.  If an emergency exists, local governments are not going to go through a public hearing process of many weeks or months to address it.  

The conclusion can only be that these proposed changes prohibiting local amendments applies to the IRC, IBC and the IECC.   Please know I am not an attorney and this is not a legal opinion.