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Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Ind. Gov't. - "Troubling lapse: State loses sight of fairground tragedy lessons"

Following on Hayleigh Colombo's important ILB story last week, the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette had this editorial yesterday. Some quotes:

Investigations after the stage collapse revealed serious omissions in requirements for equipment at outdoor events. State officials wisely drafted emergency rules to ensure such a disaster was not repeated.

Incredibly, those emergency rules expired a year ago. The Indiana Department of Homeland Security has begun the permanent rule-making process, but it could take as long as two years.

Craig Von Deylen, a member of the State Fire Prevention and Building Safety Commission, told the Indianapolis Business Journal he was disappointed that Gov. Mike Pence’s administration “let the rule lapse.” The commission could have noted the impending expiration of the emergency rules and ensured permanent rules were in place, had it been provided with adequate staff for the task.

“People died in an incident in the state prior to that rule,” Von Deylen told IBJ. “It cost the state a considerable amount of money in both legal fees and settlements.”

He said the building safety commission is behind on its work because key legal and administrative staff positions responsible for reviewing and updating the codes have been eliminated.

Those positions were eliminated under an administration that proudly noted it closed out the 2015 fiscal year with a $210 million surplus and $2.14 billion in reserves.

“I was extremely surprised and disheartened to learn that the administration allowed these safety rules to lapse without bringing it to the attention of the General Assembly,” Senate Minority Leader Tim Lanane said in a news release. “The outdoor stage safety rules were a bipartisan effort to ensure tragedies like the 2011 Indiana State Fair collapse will not happen again.”

The Anderson Democrat said he will file legislation to extend the temporary rules, which already had been extended once by lawmakers.

“In the interest of public safety, I now urge Gov. (Mike) Pence and Gov.-elect (Eric) Holcomb to act swiftly and provide the staffing and resources necessary to make the rules permanent as soon as possible,” Lanane said.

ILB: Note the paragraph above, highlighted by the ILB. An earlier, Dec. 22nd story by reporter Columbo reported that the Fire Prevention and Building Safety Commission (part of the Homeland Security Dept.) was unable to deal with the statutory-required state process of readopting rules every 7 years, or allowing them to "sunset", and that as a result "The state’s energy conservation code—which covers commercial buildings and apartments and sets minimum energy standards—expires Dec. 31."

The current administration vowed to reduce or eliminate "restrictive rules and regulations." For example, see this FWJG story from June 24, 2013, that begins:

On Gov. Mike Pence’s first day in office, he signed an executive order creating a moratorium on state rules and regulations.
All the state agencies responsible for the state's various building codes are in this same department, Homeland Security, and likely are facing the same constraints.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on January 4, 2017 09:32 AM
Posted to Indiana Government | Stage Collapse