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Summary of Member Meeting on April 23, 2014

posted May 16, 2014, 7:34 AM by Robert DuPont

Alliance for Regulatory Coordination

Summary of Member Meeting

Meeting Date: April 23, 2014

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

The meeting was convened at 9:00 a.m. by Bob DuPont, of Regulatory Guidance and Design, LLC.

DuPont reported that he has not yet heard back from the Governor’s Office concerning the April 9th ARC request for a proclamation declaring May as Building Safety Month in Wisconsin. He said that last year it took a couple of weeks for the proclamation to be issued, so he would contact the Governor’s Office around the end of April if he has not heard anything by then.

The group next discussed an outline for the May 28th meeting between ARC representatives and Secretary Ross in the Department of Safety and Professional Services. The meeting will focus on code development relative to programs administered by the DSPS Division of Industry Services (formerly the Safety and Buildings Division).

It was agreed that the meeting outline would contain the following four points:
  • Department code development plans for 2014 and beyond
  • Use and role of advisory code councils
  • Relationship between specialty and umbrella code councils
  • Request flow chart of the DSPS code development process

It was also confirmed that attendees for the meeting will be; Jeff Beiriger, Joe Jameson, Richard Paur, Scott Satula and Steve Breitlow. DuPont said he would work with that group to identify who will take the lead on each agenda item. An agenda will be sent to the DSPS before the meeting.

Next, Jim Smith reviewed the proposal for owner’s choice of code application for commercial buildings. Essentially, the idea is to change state law to allow a building owner to work with the applicable municipality to have more recent editions of national model codes (more recent than those adopted by the state) apply to the construction of a particular commercial building.

DuPont said that the proposal is recommended to all Alliance members by the ARC Fire Safety Team. He asked all ARC member organizations to consider the proposal, and if possible, to take a position on it before the next ARC member meeting. DuPont said ARC could lobby for this statute change during the next legislative session if there was no objection from Classic Members.

During discussion of the proposal the following points were made:
  • The term “building owner” includes land owners as well as land developers.
  • The building design industry may be a significant influence on owners because designers often know the safety and cost-related advantages found in the latest editions of national model codes.
  • Communication to contractors and subcontractors regarding applicable codes will need to begin with at least the bidding process, similar to cases where variances to the code have been granted.
  • Owner’s choice of code applicability would be initiated by the owner but the community must agree to the request. If a community was not comfortable with allowing the owner’s choice of using a newer model code, the owner would still have the option of requesting a variance from the Department of Safety and Professional Services.
  • The community could have a condition that would require submittal of a summary of the differences between the currently adopted model code and the newer code edition desired by the owner. Also, plan reviews and inspections could be required to be augmented by third parties paid for by the owner.
  • Owner’s choice would be “all or nothing”, meaning there can’t be “cherry picking” from the newer code editions, because many code provisions are interdependent and the idea is to not place the burden of deciding equivalency on a code section by section basis but rather, to recognize newer model code editions as a whole as being equivalent to the current state-adopted model code edition.
  • Owners may qualify for lower insurance costs through the use of newer code editions.

There was no opposition expressed about the owner’s choice proposal. DuPont asked that all ARC members review the proposal and discuss it with their respective association leaders with the goal of being able to report their respective positions on the idea during the next ARC member meeting.

Next, the role of the DSPS in training, testing and licensing of trades was discussed. Jeff Beiriger explained that this topic is important to the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association of Wisconsin (PHCC-WI) because of recent developments concerning administrative rules of the DSPS. He said that concerns involve both policy and process issues.

For background, Beiriger explained the following. That there is a sub-category of plumber license called Restricted Appliance. The DSPS develops and administers examinations for all categories of plumber licenses. A group raised concern about candidates failing the Restricted Appliance Plumber examination. The Plumbers Council met and tabled the issue asking for more information, including the results of a DSPS survey of currently licensed Restricted Appliance Plumbers, which the DSPS had agreed to perform. Before the survey was completed, and the topic again considered by the Plumbers Council, the DSPS went ahead with a rule change proposal that would allow third party development and administration of examinations for Restricted Appliance licensing. The PHCC-WI is concerned about non-uniform test questions where the third party examination may be too narrow in scope.

Beiriger said PHCC-WI has the following policy-related questions about the DSPS rule proposal: who in DSPS will approve the third party exam content; will third parties focus their tests on their interests; will third parties simply teach to their exams?

Beiriger said PHCC-WI may support using independent third party exam developers and administrators. He said that an industry trade association creating and administering a license examination seems to be a conflict of interest. Jeff said the Department won’t save money under the new scenario because they still have to develop and administer their own exam, under the rule change proposal.

Beiriger said PHCC-WI is very concerned with the fact that the DSPS worked around the Plumbers Council. Regarding the process utilized by the DSPS, PHCC-WI questions: what is the DSPS doing to their relationship with the plumbing industry in Wisconsin; does the DSPS feel that the PHCC-WI is a burden on the regulatory process; what role does the Plumber Council, and the plumbing industry in general, have in regard to developing this sort of change in administrative rules?

During discussion of this subject the following points were made:
  • As Wisconsin has moved to using more national model codes and standards the state has also moved towards requiring or recognizing nationally recognized certifications. Elevator and boiler inspector requirements are two examples where a nationally recognized certification is mandatory; with commercial building inspector requirements being an example of a nationally recognized certification being an accepted option to taking and passing the DSPS examination.
  • An argument could be made that the International Code Council could teach to their inspector examinations; with that same argument available concerning boiler and elevator examinations. He said use of, and recognition of, nationally recognized exams is not something new.
  • The ICC has their entire certification program accredited by a third party organization. Perhaps PHCC-WI should ask for nationally recognized accreditation of any third party exams recognized for plumber licensing.

Steve Breitlow said the DSPS proposal would also remove from the code much of the pre-requisite training now required of Restricted Appliance license candidates. He said that Plumbers Local 75 is concerned that third party exam administrators could teach just about ice makers, for example, but the law allows Restricted Appliance Plumbers to also install many other types of appliances.

DuPont said some of the concerns expressed seem focused on possible future actions of the DSPS and seem to reflect the level of trust that some associations have in the Department. He suggested the Department will work its way through implementation of the proposed rule; reminding that the agency has not yet made any decisions about approving any specific third party exams for plumbers. DuPont said the Department would still be responsible to make sure that each license examination covers all areas of work authorized by the respective license. He suggested that there is time to see how the DSPS administers the proposed rule.

Annie Reinhard recalled the DSPS said this would be the only exam to be administered by a trade association. Dan Gengler asked if the proposed rule is a threat to other ARC members. Beiriger said yes, he thought so, because if it can be done for plumbing then why not for other trades. Annie said it is not just the DSPS, but also the State Legislature, that is deregulating.

Beiriger said he wanted to discuss this topic with other ARC members to see if they shared the concerns of PHCC-WI and Plumbers Local 75 relative to the idea to change the role of the DSPS concerning Restricted Appliance Plumber licensing. He said he was not asking ARC to take a position on the matter, but he did ask that all ARC members remain aware of developments in this area.

There was no disagreement expressed that the concerns raised regarding third party license examinations seemed valid. There was general agreement that potentially affected industries should have input during the consideration of changes in the role of the DSPS related to training, testing and licensing of trades.

DuPont suggested that the next ARC Member Meeting include a review of ARC priorities and timelines for addressing them. There was general consensus to proceed in that manner.

The next meeting of Alliance Members was scheduled for July 24, 2014, from 9:00 to 10:30 a.m. at the offices of ABC, Wisconsin.

The meeting was adjourned at 11:10 a.m.


Meeting Attendees

Organization Represented

Annie Reinhard

Wisconsin Fire Protection Coalition

Bob Neale

International Code Council

Corey Gall

Wisconsin Fire Protection Coalition

Dan Gengler

Wisconsin Alliance for Fire Safety

Ed Ruckriegel

Professional Fire Fighters of Wisconsin

James B. Smith

Wisconsin Code Officials Alliance

Jeff Beiriger

Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors of Wisconsin

Joe Jameson

International Association of Electrical Inspectors – Wisconsin Chapter

Matthew Mertens

Wisconsin Code Officials Alliance

Misha Lee

Wisconsin Insurance Alliance

Richard Paur

Wisconsin Code Officials Alliance

Scott Satula

Wisconsin Code Officials Alliance

Steve Breitlow

Plumbers Local 75

Tom Johnson

Wisconsin Code Officials Alliance

Thomas Wendt

Wisconsin State Fire Inspectors Association

Bob DuPont

Regulatory Guidance and Design, LLC

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

It was issued on May 16, 2014.