Call to Order and Roll Call
The5th meeting of the Interim Joint Committee on Licensing and Occupations was held on Friday, October 12, 2012, at 10:00 AM, in Room 129 of the Capitol Annex. Representative Dennis Keene, Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.
Members:Senator John Schickel, Co-Chair; Representative Dennis Keene, Co-Chair; Senators Tom Buford, Julian M. Carroll, Denise Harper Angel, Jimmy Higdon, Paul Hornback, Dan "Malano" Seum, Kathy W. Stein, Damon Thayer, and Robin L. Webb; Representatives Tom Burch, Larry Clark, Wade Hurt, Joni L. Jenkins, Adam Koenig, Reginald Meeks, Michael J. Nemes, David Osborne, Darryl T. Owens, Ruth Ann Palumbo, Carl Rollins II, Arnold Simpson, and Susan Westrom.
Guests: Robert D. Vance, Secretary, Public Protection Cabinet; Tony Dehner, Commissioner, Department of Alcohol Beverage Control; Ambrose Wilson, IV, Commissioner, Jack Coleman, Deputy Commissioner, and Dawn Bellis, General Counsel, Department of Housing, Buildings and Construction.
Approval of minutes
A motion to approve the minutes from the September 14, 2012 meeting was made by Representative Burch and seconded by Senator Schickel. The motion carried by voice vote.
House Bill 215 Task Force on Electrical Inspection
Ambrose Wilson, IV, Commissioner of the Department of Housing, Buildings and Construction (HBC) told members that Jack Coleman, Deputy Commissioner had been named as chairman of the task force, and Dawn Bellis was legal counsel and chief advisor of the Task Force on Electrical Inspection. The task force was formed in response to HB 215 of the 2012 Regular Session. The task force has enabled the department to focus on the electrical component throughout the department.
Mr. Coleman provided an overview of the process the task force followed. He said that the group decided to keep the language as narrow as possible, using the language of HB 215 HCS1 as a starting point. The task force met three times. The first meeting was organizational. During the second meeting members began to evaluate the language of HB 215 HCS1 line by line, section by section, to make changes and additions to the bill. At the last meeting members discussed the changes and additions and voted to pass the new recommendations.
The members meeting on the bill included representatives of the Kentucky Association of Counties, the Kentucky League of Cities, International Association of Electrical Inspectors, open county inspectors, closed county inspectors, and Steve Willinghurst, who chairs the Electrical Advisory Committee, was also on the task force as a statewide member.
There are 275 certified electrical inspectors in Kentucky. HBC certifies the inspectors and any certified electrical inspector may conduct electrical inspections. There are two types of inspection programs. The non-compliant are “open” counties and the compliant are “closed” counties. This is a critical issue in HB 215. The non-compliant counties have a contractor that does not report to any local or state authority. These counties are not in compliance with Kentucky law. Complaint counties have hired or have a contract with an electrical inspector. In these counties, contractors can only hire an electrical inspector designated for that jurisdiction. These inspectors report to local appointing authorities and these counties are compliant with existing Kentucky law.
Establishment of an “Electrical Division” in the department is considered a key element. The division would not require that a certified inspector become an employee of the Commonwealth or of HBC. Rather the Electrical Division would provide oversight of inspections, assistance to local programs, flexibility of resources and support, standardized electrical inspection protocol, and standardized reporting forms.
The issue of interpretation of the National Electrical Code (NEC) to increase compliance with licensure requirements was also discussed. A single interpretation of the code would aid electricians and electrical contractors working in multiple jurisdictions. It also provides support and education to local inspectors and will assist in investigations for disciplinary actions. A single interpretation of the NEC would be enhanced by having an Electrical Division within the department. Consumer protection is increased when consistency in electrical inspections is provided.
Electrical inspectors will register with the Electrical Division. They will be linked to their jurisdictions to allow the division to verify required electrical licensure. Additionally, inspectors will be reporting violations to the department to provide statewide information on violators.
The Electrical Division was originally in the Division of Fire Prevention. It was moved to Building Code Enforcement in HBC. The proposed legislation will create the separate Electrical Division. This is critical going forward with compliance and consistency.
Dawn Bellis went over the specific changes made by the task force. She told members the report by the task force was unanimously approved at the final meeting. The first change made for clarification and consistency was to change electrical wiring to electrical system. The second recommendation is addition of proof of approvals prior to the final electrical inspection. Another recommendation called for adding the language “contracted, nor employed” for consistency and clarity.
The task force also recommended a specific time limitation for approval once a local jurisdiction provided the department documentation for authorization of a local electrical program. A local jurisdiction can also ask the department to step in and take over inspections if the inspector has moved from the area or if there is not a certified inspector in that area.
The task force also recommends providing protocol for conducting necessary electrical repairs outside of business hours. A business or homeowner could have an emergency arise on a weekend, night, or other times an inspector might not be available. This recommendation would provide that the contractor could get a permit after the emergency work was performed. This language mirrors language in other departments such as plumbing and HVAC.
The task force also recommends clarification of the language concerning work that homeowners can do on their personal residences. There is an exception for homeowners who do their own work. New language would exempt homeowners who do the work themselves and have not had a similar exemption on another property within the last five years.
The task force said that by standardizing forms for inspection, some language in HB 215 became redundant and recommended that repeats be struck. Additionally, recognizing that different jurisdictions have different costs for inspections, the task force recommended the department, with the advice of the Electrical Advisory Committee, promulgate an administrative regulation capping a maximum fee to be charged for electrical inspection in local programs. The fee for each jurisdiction is to be established by the jurisdiction rather than being mandated statewide. This is different than other programs in HBC.
Because the electrical inspections were moved from the Office of the State Fire Marshal to Building Codes Enforcement there were unforeseen consequences that resulted in taking the electrical inspectors ability to pull electrical service where imminent danger is present. While the ability was lost when the electrical inspectors were moved from the State Fire Marshal’s office, the ability to pull an electrical service is restored by the language the task force is proposing.
Finally, the task force recommends that KRS 132.815 be repealed in its entirety. This removes the requirement that electrical inspectors file a report monthly with the Department of Revenue. Electrical inspectors are required to file reports of service annually. The task force felt that monthly reports were too burdensome and advised repealing the entire section. The Department of Revenue was contacted for its input; however, it has yet to respond.
In response to a question from Senator Schickel, Ms. Bellis said electrical inspectors have not had the authority to pull an electrical service since 2010.
In response to a question from Senator Stein, Ms. Bellis said that because the Senator is a homeowner and is preparing to do the electrical work on her own home, she is allowed to perform that electrical work without an inspection.
In response to a question from Representative Meeks, Ms. Bellis said the task force contacted the Department of Revenue about the reporting requirement three weeks ago.
Senator Schickel and Senator Higdon commended the department on the quick response they receive when they have call HBC with constituent concerns.
Representative Clark commented that a standardized electrical inspection system was needed. In rural areas inspectors who do not have a contract with a municipality or the state will bill for an inspection each time they enter a home, and the accumulated cost can become quite high.
Senator Buford commented that there were several areas in the proposed language that the Senate would change or reject. He offered to work with the eventual sponsor of the bill on corrections.
In response to a question from Representative Owens, Ms. Bellis said the department feels that the current information on open and closed counties is not accurate, therefore the task force is gathering documentation on the number of local governments that do not have a contract for electrical inspector. State inspectors only inspect state- owned and state-leased properties.
Governor’s Task Force on the Study of Kentucky’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Laws
Robert D. Vance, Secretary of the Public Protection Cabinet, chairman of the Task Force on the Study of Kentucky’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Laws, said that on July 18, 2012, the Governor executed an Executive Order creating the task force. On August 14, the Governor named 22 members to the task force. He included two members from Senate leadership, two members from House leadership, a representative from Mothers Against Drunk Driving, a member of the Kentucky Liquor Retail Coalition, the Kentucky Restaurant Association, a member of Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of Kentucky Inc., Kentucky Distillers Association, Kentucky Vineyard Society, Kentucky Beer Wholesalers Association, Kentucky Malt Beverage Council, Licensed Micro-Brewery’s, the Kentucky Association of Counties, Kentucky League of Cities, Licensed Large Brewery’s, Kentucky Retail Federation, and Larry Bond representing the Governor’s Office, along with three members from the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control.
In Kentucky, there are over 80 types of licenses relating to alcohol production or sales and over 13,000 licensees. Kentucky has 82 counties with some type of alcohol sales. Five years ago there were only 53 counties that had some type of alcohol sales. The Executive Order identified problems about which the task force was to build a consensus. Problems of particular importance were; the number and types of licenses, the effectiveness of local election laws, and the enhancement of public safety. There is also concern about helping licensees. The task force wanted potential changes in alcohol laws to be revenue neutral. Also, the task force did not want to change any benefits for the licensees.
The task force established three committees to review the three main concerns. Stephanie Stumbo, the Administrator of Malt Beverages, was appointed chairman of the committee for the number and type of licenses. Tony Dehner, Commissioner of Alcoholic Beverage Control, is chairman of the committee to study the effectiveness of local option election laws. Danny Reed, the Administrator of Distilled Spirits, is chairman of the enhancement of public safety committee.
The first task force meeting was August 16, 2012. There were two subsequent committee meetings and on September 26, 2012 the task force received a report from the committees. Each member was able to participate in any one or all three committees. Nineteen of the 22 members of the task force are on the licensing committee. There are an additional 51 participants who are interested parties wanting to have a voice in the review process. The chairs of the committee expressed a need for additional study and asked for volunteers. These volunteers study pertinent information from other states and bring reports back to the committee.
Public forums have been scheduled in Northern Kentucky, Eastern Kentucky and Western Kentucky. The forums are to invite the public to share information. The meetings are scheduled from 6:00 – 7:30 p.m. on October 22, at the Center for Rural Development in Somerset, on October 23 at Northern Kentucky University in Newport, and on October 25 at the Community College in Madisonville. The feedback from these meetings will go in the report from the full task force.
On December 13, all committees will give their recommendations to the full task force. A final report, including items that the task force could not reach a consensus on, will be voted on and that report will be submitted to the governor on January 15. All the task force information, including all task force and committee meeting minutes can be found on the Public Protection website.
Secretary Vance concluded by saying that the purpose of the task force was to “clean up” alcohol statutes. He noted that the committee wanted to eliminate alcohol law that is not enforceable and to eliminate unnecessary licenses or licenses that duplicate each other.
Representative Keene commented that Secretary Vance’s approach to the licensees being viewed at the customer and streamlining the license process was a very encouraging sign.
In response to a question from Representative Owens, Secretary Vance said the community forums were for the purpose of gathering information from local people with concerns for their areas.
In response to a question from Representative Meeks, Secretary Vance said the forums are open and the task force encourages all groups to come to these meetings.
Senator Higdon, a member of the task force, commented that the task force was not changing a large part of legislation, but was cleaning up language. There would not be anything taken away from licensees. By the same token, there would not be anything added to the language in the alcohol statutes. The task force process has been effective and the recommendations will improve the alcohol laws.
In response to a question from Representative Simpson, Secretary Vance said the Kentucky League of Cities is studying the issue of classes of cities regarding alcohol sales and use.
In response to a question from Representative Simpson, Commissioner Tony Dehner said the task force was not charged with changing laws and that sales of alcohol on election days would require creation of a new law.
Senator Buford commented that he felt it was important to have a town forum in Jefferson County. Senator Webb added that the task force was welcome to come east of Interstate 75.
In response to a question from Senator Seum, Secretary Vance said as an example of an unenforceable alcohol law that there is one law that says if a precinct in a county was having a local option election to go “wet” or “dry,” every business that sells alcohol in that county must be closed. However, there are two separate Attorney General opinions that say that subsequent laws passed by the General Assembly conflict with the law requiring closure. Therefore the first law was essentially unenforceable and should be removed.
In response to a question from Representative Meeks, Secretary Vance said the preliminary investigation shows that split precincts are an area outside the scope of the agency’s authority.
Representative Keene reminded members that the next meeting of the IJC on Licensing and Occupations would be November 9, 2012, at 10:00 AM, in room 129 of the Annex.
There being no further business to come before the committee the meeting was adjourned at 11:08 AM.