Newly Passed Bill Supports Building Codes

The Highway Construction and National Flood Insurance Reform Bill (HR 4348) includes a modified version of the Community Building Code Administration Grant Act championed by the International Code Council (ICC) and directs FEMA to study the impact of requiring enforcement of current building codes in flood plain management criteria. ICC advocated for both provisions on behalf of its members, including Capitol Hill Day visits during Building Safety Month. The measure was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Barack Obama.

“We commend Congress and the President for allocating federal resources to these important initiatives,” said ICC CEO Rick Weiland. “These efforts will help support code officials as they work to keep our communities safe and in compliance with up-to-date building codes that are proven to save lives and reduce property damage.”

The bill adds a specific category of grants to the list of eligible Community Development Block Grant activities for support of building code administration including staffing, training, equipment purchases, and related expenditures. While it does not establish a new grant fund or provide new funding, it does allow building code administration offices to be funded for the work done to administer building codes. Like the original bill, the provision requires matching funds from the local jurisdiction on a sliding scale between 50% and 12.5% based on population.

U.S. Rep. Judy Biggert (R-IL-13), who Chairs the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Insurance, Housing, and Community Opportunity and sponsored the original National Flood Insurance Program reform measure, H.R. 1309, said the building code provisions are an important part of protecting flood-prone communities:

“We’re asking FEMA to examine how its personnel can work with local building code officials to make our homes and buildings stronger. This is an important element of flood plain management that will yield better protection for homeowners, prevent avoidable property damage, and save taxpayer money when a disaster strikes. I appreciate the input and support we received from the nation’s building code experts as we worked to get this landmark reform over the finish line with overwhelmingly bipartisan support.”