HB220 study group meets for first bill review session

Published: Jul. 8, 2021 at 6:21 AM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - The study group tasked to review House Bill 220 held its first meeting this week to review a bill passed by state lawmakers some feel could create safety hazards in schools.

House Bill 220 included executive amendments from Governor Ivey to establish this task force after fire association leaders and building companies opposed it. The group held its first meeting Tuesday.

“Compare what other states do and federal agencies do, and go about the process of code review and on site inspections at educational buildings,” said Chief Tim Love, Alabaster Fire.

Love is one of the 12 members now tasked to review the law and make recommendations for changes. The study group includes four lawmakers, state and local education leaders, members from the construction industry, and the Alabama Fire Chiefs Association.

“We have to file a report back which has to go to the governor,” said Love. “An executive summary and what we would recommend for legislative change.”

Love advocated against House Bill 220 before it was passed.

It removes oversight by the state on construction projects of $500,000 or less at K-12 schools and institutes of higher learning. That responsibility would transfer to the governing board of each institution.

Some of the topics discussed at Tuesday’s meeting included ways to streamline the oversight process, the costs of code compliance efforts, and potentially increasing the monetary threshold that would trigger state oversight.

Love says he’s hoping to find more compromise in adding oversight on even cheaper construction projects.

“We see what went on in Florida. We have no idea what caused that, but we see what a catastrophic event that is,” said Love. “We have the ability to now to make sure the buildings are built to the best standard possible.”

The study group is offering recommendations for changes to the law. Official changes would take additional legislation. There is another meeting set for July 19 where the public can weigh in.

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