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Appeals on Committee Reconsideration and Preemption Concluded

The International Code Council Board of Directors has issued a final decision on the first two groups of appeals – preemption and committee reconsideration – and outlined next steps. The Board will meet again on Monday, October 5, 2020, to consider the remaining appeals related to the 2019 Group B code cycle.

These appeals are one part of a longer code development process that is responsive, transparent and open. For more information about this process and how it creates the most widely used and adopted set of building safety codes in the world, click here.

Preemption

In this case, preemption is the invalidation of a code provision that conflicts with U.S. federal law. It promotes consistency across state lines in the U.S. and allows for manufacturers to create products that will be accepted in all 50 U.S. states.

Four entities – American Gas Association, American Public Gas Association, Air Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute, and National Association of Home Builders – appealed select changes to the 2021 International Codes (I-Codes) on the grounds that the changes are preempted by federal law.

The Appeals Board recommended denial of the appeals, in part due to their limited authority. They also suggested that the Code Council Board initiate an analysis of the preemption issue and determine whether any remedial action should be taken under the Board’s broader authority. The Code Council Board voted to support the denial of the appeals of RE107-19 (dealing with pilot lights on gas appliances) and RE126-19 (dealing with efficiency ratings for gas-fired water heaters) as they found no violation of the Code Council’s processes or procedures.

The Code Council Board also determined that, upon review, including potentially preempted provisions in the I-Codes is inconsistent with the spirit, intent and mission of the Code Council. Indeed, the codes explicitly state that they do not nullify any provisions of local, state or federal law. Accordingly, the Board determined that the approved language from RE107-19 and RE126-19 will not be included in the 2021 International Residential Code (IRC) or International Energy Conservation Code (IECC).

In addition, the Code Council Board referred the issue of preemption generally for consideration to the Board Committee on the Long-Term Code Development Process. This committee is a venue for stakeholders to provide feedback on the process and suggest changes to the code development process.

Committee Reconsideration

Appellant Jake Pauls filed appeals on two code changes in the IRC: RB81-19 (related to grab bars in bath and shower) and RB116-19 (related to stairways). The appellant requested that the matters be sent back to the committee for further consideration of evidence.

The Code Council Board voted to uphold the Appeals Board recommendation to deny the appeals on the basis that no violation of the Code Council’s processes or procedures were found. The two code changes will be referred to the Building Code Action Committee for consideration in the code development cycle for the 2024 I-Codes.