The Plight of State Legislation Mandating Building Codes in South Carolina

by Elliott Mittler, Univ of Southern California, Los Angeles, United States,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Hurricane Hugo One Year Later


Since 1968, counties in South Carolina have exercised their individual option to adopt and enforce building codes. Prior to Hurricane Hugo on September 21, 1989, 17 of the 46 counties in the state chose to adopt building codes. In the mid 1980's, civil engineers and state building officials became concerned that the health, welfare, and safety of the state's population were in danger because no uniform building regulations were mandatory in the state. Proponents of a state-wide building code formed Citizens and Organizations for Minimum Building Standards (COMBS) and then drafted model legislation, which was modified and introduced by Senator Glenn McConnell in the 1989 legislative session. This study documents the progress of that bill in the State Legislature before and after Hurricane Hugo. Typically, controversial bills, if successful, take years to get enacted. Although the losses caused by Hurricane Hugo would have appeared to have aided this bill's prospects of being enacted, the bill did not reach the floor of either the House or the Senate because legislative rules were used to kill the bill. Four of the five identifiable opponents opposed the bill because it mandated county action, and they believed it violated the intent of the state's Home Rule Act. Sponsors of the bill expect to reintroduce the bill in the 1991 legislative session. Its outcome will depend on whether supporters can negotiate an acceptable version of the bill with its opponents.

Subject Headings: Legislation | Building codes | Emergency management | Political factors | Safety | Floors | Residential buildings | Building management | South Carolina | United States

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