Senate Committee Hears Bill Limiting New Building and Energy Code Adoption

March 8, 2021

The bill would prohibit new model building codes until 2026 and new energy codes except under certain circumstances.

A bill that would limit new building and energy codes was passed by the Senate Housing Finance and Policy Committee on March 4 and sent to the Senate Labor and Industry Policy Committee.

SF 910, authored by Sen. Rich Draheim (R-Madison Lake), as amended, would limit the adoption of new model building codes until 2026 unless approved by the Legislature. It would also bar any changes to the residential energy code unless the changes are determined to have a payback through energy savings over a period of five years.

The bill would inhibit progress in addressing energy efficiencies in residential development, which is currently done through a robust stakeholder process.

An author’s amendment adopted by the committee eliminated Section 2 of the bill, which prohibited a city from requiring additional inspections for an “area of building code competency” if the area of competency was approved by a building official, building official-limited, or construction code inspector. The amendment also eliminated a provision that would have made the bill’s provisions effective retroactively on Sept. 1, 2018.

League opposes bill

The League submitted written testimony in opposition to the bill, arguing that the deleted single inspection provision could result in the ability for a builder to inspect its own project and effectively bar city inspection to ensure safety and code compliance.

Read the League’s letter in opposition to the bill (pdf)

Other groups testifying in opposition to the bill included American Institute of Architects Minnesota, the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industries, Fresh Energy, the Association of Minnesota Building Officials, Minnesota Fire Association Coalition, Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance, Mechanical & Electrical Construction Industry of Minnesota, and the Center for Energy and Environment.

Those opposing the bill highlighted the existing robust stakeholder process for code adoption and the necessity for the consideration of new energy and building codes to capitalize on new energy efficiencies and savings, as well as enhancements to the code that make buildings safer and more durable.

Testifiers in support of the bill included the Builders Association of Minnesota and Housing First Minnesota. Both organizations noted that new energy codes add to the cost of a home.

Read more news articles