Testimony of Nancy Smith, Executive Director of GrowSmart Maine
In Opposition to LD 1787,
“An Act To Create Efficiencies in the Administration and Enforcement of the Maine Uniform Building and Energy Code”
February 23, 2012
Senator Rector, Representative Prescott and members of the Joint Standing Committee on Labor, Commerce, Research and Economic Development, my name is Nancy Smith and I am the Executive Director of GrowSmart Maine, a statewide non-profit, membership-based organization working to improve Maine's economy, protect its distinctive character and communities, and enhance our state's quality places.
GrowSmart Maine has been a strong supporter of a statewide building code for years; it was one of the major recommendations of our foundational 2006 report, Charting Maine’s Future. We are among many who believe that a statewide consistent regulation will be a major success by reducing the cost of doing business in Maine while providing basic safety and quality performance standards across the state.
For the MUBEC to be a success, however, it must be housed both where there are adequate resources for effective implementation and where the agency culture is committed to the purpose and goals of the MUBEC. The Fire Marshal’s Office does a tremendous service to this state in effectively managing its programs and mission. Our concern lies with whether the Office will be able to broaden its goals and knowledge base to effectively implement the MUBEC including the ability to answer questions as towns and builders learn the code. Some have expressed concern that the Fire Marshal’s Office may push for code changes that they have advocated for in the past. This issue deserves careful consideration.
An appropriately staffed and effective Technical Building Codes and Standards Board is critical given that it is anticipated that implementation will require the Board to resolve conflicts and undertake rulemaking to adapt the provisions of the Code. I am not sure that this bill, as currently drafted, will achieve this objective or the purpose stated in the bill summary of “creating efficiencies in the administration and enforcement” of the MUBEC.
We believe the MUBEC deserves to stand as its own Bureau within the Department of Public Safety as is currently the case. If a change is necessary, we recommend that the Technical Code Board and its staff be housed with other professional standards in the Department of Professional and Financial Regulation.
I thank you for the opportunity to present these remarks.