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Dick Wilhelm presented an update on code-related legislative activities within the states comprising the AAMA Southeast Region.

Florida

  • HB 299 seeks to revise the membership of the Florida Building Commission to eliminate a member of the building products manufacturing industry – a measure with potential effect on the practicality of Florida product approval.
  • CS/SB 620 would establish a disaster preparedness tax exemption for storm shutter devices.
  • HB 437/SB 1444 establishes that the Florida Building Code must require public and private healthcare facilities to have an operational emergency power source.
  • SB 1312/HB 1227 establishes that the Florida Building Code must require state subsidized buildings to also have an operational emergency power source.


Virginia

  • HB 134 raises the minimum project cost requiring the use of value engineering from $5 million to $15 million
  • HB 160 provides that the local governing body may enter into an agreement with another locality to provide assistance on building code inspections, plan review and permitting.
  • HB 1104 allows any business to apply for a refund of sales and use taxes paid for any property purchased to replace or repair property (including windows and doors) that was damaged as a result of a state-declared disaster.


Georgia

  • SB 2 streamlines licensing and permitting.
  • The Rural Zones program, enacted in 2017, requires the zoning of portions of each community – primarily historic downtown areas – to allow for tax credits for eligible businesses that create jobs and stimulate economic activity in eligible communities.


Mississippi

  • HB 323 provides an insurance premium discount or reduction for homeowners who build a new home that better resists tornado or other catastrophic windstorm events.
  • HB 860 creates a special fund for the comprehensive hurricane damage mitigation program, which must meet the standard of a "Fortified Home" in accordance with the Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS).


Louisiana

  • HB 19 would have established a 10 to 15 percent tax on goods and services, which could be detrimental to the remodeling market. However, this bill did not pass.


Tennessee

  • HB 476/SB 250 defines "building design elements" (which includes the location or architectural styling of windows and doors), for purposes of local governmental zoning, and prohibits application of zoning regulations relating to building design elements for certain dwellings.


Wilhelm also reported on the establishment of the Florida Select Committee on Hurricane Response and Preparedness. Triggered by the onslaught of Hurricane Irma, the first major hurricane to hit Florida since 2005 and responsible for $6.55 billion in property damage, the committee was established last September to evaluate performance of the Florida Building Code, determine if any changes to the code or code adoption process are warranted and identify additional ways to harden existing homes against disaster.

The committee, composed of 21 members of the Florida House, was to issue a final report and recommendations by January 16, 2018. These consisted of 78 recommendations involving ten policy issues in diverse area such as evacuations, energy production, sheltering vulnerable populations, health care, education and others. There were no recommendations, however, on building codes or standards and the hardening of structures.

The Florida Building Code – recognized as one of the most progressive and best enforced in the nation – made a discernable difference in the degree of damage sustained from Hurricane Irma, and there is no sentiment to change the code or its development process at this time. Activities to implement the Select Committee recommendations and to monitor building code initiatives will continue.