ABC MA provided testimony to the Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee last week on several bills dealing with the building code, building materials and fire safety.


ABC testified in support of House Bill 2537, An Act Relative to the Board of Building Regulations and Standards and Senate Bill 1554, An Act Implementing the Recommendations of the Walsh-Kennedy Commission Report, and in opposition to Senate Bill 1589, An Act Relative to Safe Building Materials.


ABC supports House Bill 2537 as it seeks to limit the adoption of “local option” codes that will result in a fragmented statewide framework and confusion in the building and regulatory process. For contractors, dealing with different local requirements is challenging, as construction is subject to considerable government oversight and regulation. The prospect of different code requirements from one municipality to the next is extremely challenging for contractors and adds time and expense to their work. 


With safety involving hot work a priority, ABC supports Senate Bill 1554 and the recommendations of the Walsh-Kennedy Commission to increase penalties for hot work violations.  The Commission was created in the wake of a tragic Boston fire resulting from unpermitted welding work that took the lives of two heroic Boston firefighters in 2014. ABC recommends the bill be amended to allow a judge additional discretion to consider whether a violation was of a willful or a non-willful nature in issuing penalties.   


ABC opposes Senate Bill 1589 and its goal to limit the use of traditional wood frame construction in favor of masonry construction. While masonry construction is appropriate in certain applications, this bill’s intent of promoting its expanded use through significant restrictions on wood frame construction will have significant negative ramifications for the construction industry, building owners, and consumers. From a cost, feasibility, and practicality perspective, this bill’s intent to broadly, on an industry-wide basis, shift construction from wood-framed to masonry is simply not prudent. 


Legislative hearings will continue until the summer break, likely with the 4th of July holiday, and resume in the fall.  All hearings remain virtual as the State House has yet to reopen to the public.  While no office date has been set, it is expected to reopen after the summer recess.