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Summary of March 30th Meeting

posted Apr 20, 2012, 8:44 AM by Robert DuPont


Alliance for Regulatory Coordination

Summary of Member Meeting


Meeting Date: March 30, 2012

Location: Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin


The meeting was convened at 9:30 a.m. by Bob DuPont, of Regulatory Guidance and Design, LLC. Attendees introduced themselves and identified the organization they were representing.

Members welcomed Nancy Mistele, Administrator of the Safety and Buildings Division, of the Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services.

Ms. Mistele described her background and management style. She said she comes from a construction background with an understanding of issues and concerns related thereto. Nancy described herself as data driven with recognition that her role is to support the Safety and Buildings Division. She said her management style is inclusive, wanting to hear opinions and learn viewpoints from staff as well as from external customers of the Division.

Mistele said that the Department’s goal is to work within the law – exercising only the authority granted to the Department by state statutes. She said Department leaders support and encourage delegating their plan review authority to local officials. Over the past four years the demand for state-level plan review has gone down, along with revenue and staffing levels. Nancy said that as the economy picks up and the demand for state-level plan review goes up, state delegation to local officials can address much of the expected demand.

Nancy said that word on the street is that the Safety and Buildings Division is getting out of the training business. She said that is not true. Rather than getting out of the training business, she wants to partner more to get training and education delivered as efficiently and effectively as possible. Nancy also said the Division is currently interviewing candidates for the fourth fire prevention coordinator position – to help with training of fire department personnel.

Jeff Beiriger said that the Alliance for Regulatory Coordination is made up of groups that rely on government to do what they can’t do themselves. He encouraged Nancy to focus Division personnel on tasks that they are uniquely empowered to accomplish, while partnering more with industry and professional organizations for provision of education and training services. Jeff said many organizations need to and want to involve S&B technical staff in their educational program offerings.

Nancy said she is looking for how to provide education better through participation with external organizations. She encouraged ARC member organizations to share their proposed calendars of educational events where Division involvement is desired. She said partnering is better than having everyone relying solely on the Division for technical and code related education.

Beiriger also suggested that a portion of the required continuing education be dedicated to recent code changes. Nancy said that idea seems reasonable, relating it to her experience as a Realtor, where the scope of approved continuing education is relatively limited, driving customers to courses on topics related to recent changes or trends in that industry.

Matt Mertens suggested web-based training may be helpful, mentioning “iTunes u” as one such source. Amy Bliss said she feels there is room for improvement in web-based educational courses. She said some providers of internet based continuing education have no background in the subject matter being presented by them. Amy suggested using code councils to vet course providers, considering their level of expertise in the process.

Bob Kleinheinz suggested establishment of one or more training advisory councils. Nancy Mistele said that sounded like a good idea.

Brad Boycks said the Wisconsin Builders Association has concerns about the course approval process of the Division. He said it is difficult to understand the rationale for some course approvals and rejections. Nancy Mistele said she is considering use of a third party to approve continuing education courses, in part, to have a more impartial party making the decisions.

Steve Froemming said he has had no problems getting courses approved. He said that a greater concern is verification of attendance for correspondence courses. Nancy said she is open to new ideas and that hearing concerns and working together is important to the success of Division programs.

Jeff Beiriger suggested formation of program councils, instead of code councils. He encouraged meetings of such councils to help in the development of scope statements for future code change projects. Jeff said the plumbing code council has been inactive for more than a year. He asked Nancy what message that sends – that the council is not needed? Nancy said there has been no internal discussion to develop codes from the inside, saying that the Department wants to hear from and work with those outside the Department. Jeff next asked if an external customer, such as the chair of a code council, can initiate a council meeting and invite state staff to attend. Nancy suggested that question be directed to the Department Secretary or to Ms. Kellie Kaalele, Administrator of the DSPS Division of Board Services.

Richard Paur said that national model codes rely on referenced national standards. He said that if Wisconsin falls behind in code development it is very problematic because many experts are already using those newer national standards in their designs. Richard said members of the Wisconsin Code Officials Alliance would like to see a more formalized state code update cycle with a long range calendar for code development and adoption. Nancy said there have been internal discussions on how best to keep up with changes in national model codes and standards.

Steve Froemming expressed concern about apparent delays in adoption of the 2011 edition of the National Electrical Code, and delays in adopting code changes to implement state-wide inspection of electrical construction in commercial buildings and places of employment. Nancy said code changes are being looked at closely to eliminate any unnecessary burdens on users and to remove problematic provisions now in the electrical code.

Mistele said the role of program managers is being modified. She said section chiefs are where the buck stops now. No longer will they rely only on program managers to interpret the codes. Nancy said she wants to strengthen the knowledge of Division field staff and plan reviewers.

Marty King asked if newer national model codes can be applied and accepted by local officials or by the state somehow. Bob Kleinheinz said newer national model codes should be utilized whenever possible. Bob DuPont said that newer codes and standards can be accepted by the DSPS under the current code provisions for Department approval of alternate standards. Matt Mertens suggested local officials be allowed to accept alternative codes and standards. Nancy Mistele said she was familiar with the Departments authority to accept newer codes and standards as alternates to those already adopted.

Amy Bliss said she runs a small nonprofit foundation that helps owners rehabilitate their manufactured homes. She asked Nancy if the state could run public service announcements to inform the public about licensing laws and rules. Amy said that unlicensed plumbers are common in rural Wisconsin, creating safety problems with their non-compliant plumbing installations. Nancy said she would take Amy’s recommendation, along with all the others made today, to share with others in the Department. Nancy excused herself from the meeting at 10:40 a.m.

Attendees next heard about activities of the ARC Fire Safety Team. Bob DuPont explained that overlap of state and local plan review activities relative to fire safety systems was identified as the most urgent issue at the February 3rd meeting of the fire safety team.

Tom Clark said the Wisconsin State Fire Inspectors Association is working with the International Code Council, the National Fire Protection Association and the National Fire Sprinkler Association to sponsor the training necessary for local officials to conduct review of fire sprinkler and alarm system plans as delegated agents of the DSPS. He said such efforts are being coordinated with the Wisconsin State Fire Chiefs Association as well. Tom reported that Nancy Mistele is supportive of such efforts.

DuPont explained that the fire safety team is also interested in exploring the feasibility of a more robust permit and inspection program for commercial buildings throughout Wisconsin, similar to what is in place for one- and two-family dwellings. He said the team is interested in hearing from all ARC members regarding the idea, which will be discussed in more detail during the meeting of that team at 11:45 a.m.

Regarding the lapsing of DSPS fee revenue to the state’s general fund, DuPont reported on his follow-up efforts which were requested during the ARC Member Meeting on February 3, 2012. The first effort was to look into other state trust funds, specifically those used to fund operation of a state agency. Bob reported that, basically, any state program with revenue designated as “segregated fund revenues” (SEG) has its revenue deposited into a trust fund. In most cases, those trust funds are described by law as “nonlapsible”, however the legislature has subsequently passed budget bills that had overriding provisions directing the lapsing of fee revenue from SEG trust accounts and for placing that fee revenue into the general fund. The State Supreme Court has ruled that one state trust account is untouchable by subsequent legislation. That fund, the Injured Patients and Families Compensation Fund, is established with statutory language that describes the fund as being an irrevocable trust, with money in the fund being prohibited from use for any other purpose.

The second follow-up effort reported on by DuPont was in regards to contacting other organizations with members regulated by the DSPS to find out if they are also concerned about the lapsing of DSPS fee revenues. Bob reported that he had reached out to eight such organizations, and will continue to explore how the Alliance might be able to work with them to stop the diversion of funds from the DSPS. Bob reported that those eight organizations represent industries having almost 200,000 individuals and businesses credentialed by the DSPS.

DuPont recapped the recent news from the DSPS that another 1.5 million dollars of Safety and Buildings Division fee revenue will be lapsed to DOA before June 30, 2012. That equals 9.7% of the revenue taken in by S&B during fiscal year 2010-11, and is equivalent to 10.5% of S&B expenditures for that fiscal year.

There was agreement that the lapsing of fee revenues from the Safety and Buildings Division continues to be of significant concern to ARC members. There was also agreement to have ARC members communicate their concerns about lapsing during the upcoming budget development round table meetings to be held by the DSPS and Governor’s Office. All members were encouraged to lobby for an end to lapsing of fee revenues from the Safety and Buildings Division. They were also encouraged to communicate to the Administration any service shortcomings of the Division that appear to be the result of lapsing DSPS fees to the general fund.

The next meeting of Alliance Members was scheduled for June 7, 2012, from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m., at the headquarters of the Associated Builders and Contractors of Wisconsin, 5330 Wall St., Madison, WI.

The meeting was adjourned at 11:55 a.m.

 

Meeting Attendees

Organization Represented

Amy Bliss

Wisconsin Housing Alliance

Annie Reinhard

Wisconsin Fire Protection Coalition

Bob Kleinheinz

Wisconsin Fire Protection Coalition

Bob Neale

International Code Council

Brad Boycks

Wisconsin Builders Association

David Boldt

Structural Engineers Association of Wisconsin

Jeff Bateman

Wisconsin Fire Protection Coalition

Jeff Beiriger

Plumbing, Heating, Cooling Contractors of Wisconsin

Marty King

Wisconsin State Fire Inspectors Association

Matthew Mertens

Wisconsin Code Officials Alliance

Mike Hateman

Wisconsin Alliance for Fire Safety

Nancy Mistele

Wisconsin Safety and Buildings Division, Guest

Richard Paur

Wisconsin Code Officials Alliance

Russ Sanders

National Fire Protection Association

Scott Satula

Wisconsin Code Officials Alliance

Steve Breitlow

Plumbers Local 75

Steve Froemming

International Association of Electrical Inspectors, Wisconsin Chapter

Tom Clark

Wisconsin State Fire Inspectors Association

Tom Johnson

Wisconsin Code Officials Alliance

Bob DuPont

Regulatory Guidance and Design, LLC

 

This summary was prepared by Bob DuPont, Regulatory Guidance and Design, LLC.

It was issued on April 20, 2012.

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