Oberlander – Enhanced Sprinkler Mandate Repeal Legislation Heads to Governor’s Desk

State Rep. Donna Oberlander (R-Clarion/Armstrong) voted on Wednesday to send legislation (House Bill 377), to make several substantial changes to Pennsylvania’s Uniform Construction Code (UCC), to the governor’s desk for signature.  The most notable revision is the immediate repeal of the code’s sprinkler mandate for all newly constructed single-family and duplex homes which went into effect on Jan. 1, 2011. 

“The major issue surrounding this overkill mandate boils down to both personal and economic freedom,” said Oberlander.  “Individual homeowners should make the decision regarding whether or not to invest tens of thousands of dollars to install a home sprinkler system, not government, and, especially, not an unaccountable, foreign International Codes Council.  Best of all, this bill does not preclude anyone from building to gold-star standards, it empowers individual homeowners to make that choice."

Despite estimated building cost increases ranging between $3,000 and $15,000 per newly constructed home, depending on the size and design, in December 2009, Pennsylvania became the only the second state in the nation to implement this non-voluntary compliance measure as part of the triennial adoption of the International Codes Council (ICC) family of technical building codes.   

“Make no mistake, both new home building, which represents no less than 14 percent of our state’s Gross Domestic Product, and ultimately the dream of home ownership will remain in severe jeopardy throughout Pennsylvania until the governor signs this repeal legislation into law,” said Oberlander. 

Fully supported by the Pennsylvania Builders Association, the Senate-amended version of House Bill 377 adds several provisions that were contained in Oberlander’s original Sprinkler Repeal legislation (House Bill 725), including: 

  • Requiring the UCC Review and Advisory Council (RAC) to hold public hearings across the state to determine the impact new provisions may have, including health, safety and public welfare; economic and financial impact; and technical feasibility.
  • Requiring a two-thirds affirmative vote by the RAC (Review and Advisory Commission) to accept any updates to the code in the future. 

“Much like my original proposal, the legislation enacted by the House yesterday goes much further than accomplishing the most pressing objective of permanently extinguishing Pennsylvania’s residential sprinkler mandate,” said Oberlander.   “In the bigger picture, once this legislation is signed into law Pennsylvania will have the ability to opt-out of virtually any burdensome, non-legislated and arbitrary, one-sized-fits-all uniform construction mandate.   Moving forward, we will have much greater flexibility to accept and implement only those building standards that match the overall home-construction and home-buying blueprint for this Commonwealth.” 

House Bill 377 is the first bill to be sent to the governor during the 2011-12 session.  For the latest legislative updates, visit RepOberlander.com or Facebook.com/RepOberlander

State Representative Donna Oberlander
63rd District, Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Contact:  Ty McCauslin

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