A few years ago, the Idaho Legislature passed a “preemption” bill on building codes. This law now prevents cities and counties from setting their own codes to meet the needs of their residents – including energy efficiency standards, fire safety standards, and more.
Idaho’s homes consume 21% of the energy we use in our state, creating a significant cost to homeowners. The passage of the preemptive building code bill means cities and counties are unable to pass more ambitious energy efficiency standards to lower energy bills and protect our clean air.
This year, the Legislature tried to take this control a step further with House Bill 254 and House Bill 274. House Bill 254 would have recategorized electrical, mechanical, and plumbing codes as building codes – extending the legislative preemption considerably. House Bill 274 would have pulled the Idaho Energy Conservation Codes out of building codes to allow legislators to undermine them further in future sessions.
Electrical, mechanical, plumbing and efficiency are all categories of codes where localized policies have the potential to lower costs for homeowners and protect Idaho’s clean water and air. But, if the Legislature is successful in continuing to undermine these codes, Idaho’s localities may lose all ability to create their own energy standards that work for their residents.
An example of how detrimental this would be for conservation and Idahoans’ checkbooks is that HB 254 would prevent cities from requiring new buildings to include Electric Vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure. Given that the cost to install it at the time of construction is far less than retrofitting a home, this will cost homeowners money in the future as we inevitably transition to EVs.
CVI worked behind-the-scenes in making sure these bills didn’t go far, and we are happy to announce that both have met quiet ends. House Bill 274 was pulled in House Business last week and House Bill 254 is likely dead waiting on amending orders. CVI will continue to oppose future efforts to usurp local control and support protections for our clean air and water within Idaho building codes.