March 13, 2015
This past week saw a lot of committee activity on bills being followed by AIA Indiana. More detailed information regarding actions in House and Senate committees on HB 1507, state building commissioner qualifications, and SB 460, nursing home construction moratorium, are explained below.
- State Building Commissioner Qualifications.
HB 1507, authored by Rep. Heath VanNatter (R - Kokomo), and sponsored by Sen. Carlin Yoder (R-Middlebury), eliminates the requirement the state building commissioner be a licensed architect or engineer. The bill is being pushed by the Indiana Builders Association (IBA - home builders). AIA Indiana is strongly opposed to HB 1507.
The bill was heard this past Thursday in the Senate Commerce and Technology Committee. Thank you to all the AIA Indiana members who have already contacted their state senator regarding this reckless proposal. Members of the Senate Commerce and Technology Committee asked a lot of good questions during the hearing and mentioned they had been contacted by their constituents regarding the bill. It was a positive hearing for AIA Indiana and those who oppose HB 1507.
AIA Indiana would like to thank Diana Brenner, FAIA, Wayne Schmidt, FAIA, and Blake Wagner, AIA for taking time out of their busy schedules to attend the hearing and testifying against HB 1507.
No vote was taken on bill during the hearing. HB 1507 could be scheduled again in the committee for a vote. Subsequently, please contact your state senator and ask them to oppose HB 1507, if you have not already done so.
State Senate - 800/382-9467
HB 1507 TALKING POINTS
*The state building commissioner is much more than just a state plan review staff management position. The commissioner has the authority and responsibility to make state building code interpretations, which have a significant impact on Indiana's built environment and the health, safety and welfare of Hoosiers. AIA Indiana believes the requirements proposed for the state building commissioner in HB 1507 should be the minimum level of requirements for the state plan reviewers who serve under the state building commissioner.
*Architects and engineers design solutions for code compliance and their careers require constant interpretation of the code. A plan reviewer verifies code compliance. A contractor implements someone else's plan for compliance. The state building commissioner is not like other building officials...he or she must "design" interpretation. Those interpretations, in turn, become the code for Indiana. This is a very significant difference. The position is not a plan review position, and is very well suited, and most closely aligned, with the work that architects and engineers do every day.
*If this bill were to pass, the requirements to be a local plan reviewer would be significantly higher than the state building commissioner. Why would the requirements to be the highest code official in the state be less than a local plan reviewer?
*Current language in the bill would theoretically allow an individual with a bachelor's degree in construction management, 10 years' experience as a manager on home building projects, one who never opened a building code book, or had any Class 1 structure experience, be appointed state building commissioner. Appointing a non-architect/engineer as state building commissioner would be akin to appointing a paralegal to oversee all the attorneys.
*The state building commissioner's oversight and focus of plan review is on Class 1 structures (i.e. libraries, university buildings and schools, hospitals, hotels, high rise buildings, etc.), not personal family residences (Class 2). 1 & 2 Family Dwellings are not subject to state plan review.
*It is truly reckless for the state of Indiana to lower the level of qualification for its building commissioner, a position that requires the highest level of understanding in the realm of building design and safety. Architects and engineers are specially trained to understand the intricacies of structural design and life safety issues that distinguish them from other professions. If passed, HB 1507 would jeopardize the health, safety, and welfare of Hoosiers who work and visit those buildings every day. When is lowering standards ever a good thing, especially when it could impact the health, safety and welfare of Hoosiers!
*HB 1507 equals bad public policy that will erode building code development and enforcement that has protected the health, safety and welfare of Hoosiers for many years.
- Nursing Home Construction Moratorium.
SB 460, authored by Sen. Pat Miller (R - Indianapolis), and sponsored by Rep. Tim Brown (R-Crawfordsville), would ban all nursing home construction in the state for the next three years. Some nursing home operators are supporting a full moratorium on any new nursing bed licenses to limit competition in the market. Under the proposed bill, facilities that construct any nursing homes, including private pay and Medicare, would be restricted from doing so. Passage of this bill would decrease care options and have a negative economic impact on many Hoosier communities.
SB 460 was heard in the House Public Health Committee this past Monday and passed out with a vote count of 8-2. Thank you Andy Hine, AIA for testifying against this bad bill in committee. SB 460 was then debated in the House Ways and Means Committee this past Thursday. The vote was much closer but it passed with a vote count of 13-10. The bill will now be debated before the full House.
Please contact your state representative and ask them to oppose SB 460.
House of Representatives - 800/382-9842
SB 460 TALKING POINTS
*Senate Bill 460 puts into place a building moratorium on comprehensive care health facilities through June 30, 2018. The bill does allow for a few exemptions but it would cease the modernization of the long-term care industry in Indiana.
*The oldest facility in Indiana is 68 years old (licensed in 1947). There were 15 facilities built in the 50s, 123 built in the 60s, and 130 built in the 70s, in fact, 239 facilities are more than 40 years old. It is time to force Indiana's long-term care industry to modernize. At the current average rate of 7 new facilities per year since 2009, it would take 76.14 years to replace existing outdated facilities. (2015 data from the Indiana State Department of Health)
*New facilities designed by the Hoosier AIA members are committed to the State's goal of encouraging home healthcare with a focus on rehab and getting people home. An average patient Medicare stay in a modern facility is approximately 20 days.
*The moratorium contained in SB460 creates winners and losers among long-term care providers, with consumers coming in last. The only entities that will benefit from the moratorium are old facilities that no one wants to go to.
*A nursing home construction moratorium damages Indiana and harmfully restricts senior options.
*Some nursing home operators (not all) are fighting for a full moratorium on any new nursing facility licenses to limit competition in the market.
*Companies that develop, build, and operate new nursing homes with private pay and Medicare (not state-funded beds) would be restricted from doing so under this bill, creating a negative impact on communities and jobs in Indiana, and limiting senior choices.
*Competition creates better quality care, improvements in the physical building, and, potentially, lower cost of care.
*The senior health care industry is poised to provide thousands and thousands of jobs in Indiana, both construction and permanent good-paying jobs, including nursing, administration, occupational therapy, maintenance and chefs, and have a significant economic impact to local communities.
*Indiana cities and towns should decide whether a project is good for their community. The bill would prohibit those communities from determining if a new property project would be a good economic development opportunity.
*Existing properties are older and institutional. Most are out of date and not what the current and upcoming senior market desires. The newer properties are designed to satisfy the needs and desires of seniors, with amenities such as private rooms, private baths and ample social activities. The innovation currently being demanded cannot occur if a moratorium passes.