Political Advocacy, SEAW (Washington)
SEAW works on political advocacy via several committees within our MO as well as through our members that are appointed by the Governor on Boards and Commissions that deals with State Building Code and State Licensures.
SEAW Legislative Committee: The purpose of the committee is to monitor government affairs as related to the structural engineering profession. The chair is selected and approved by the State Board and either serves as or appoints the SEAW delegate (and alternate when possible) to the Architects and Engineers Legislative Council (AELC). The goal of the AELC council is to work cooperatively on legislative objectives and issues for the improvement of business conditions through a joint legislative council. Historically AELC has listed the following topics as priority items for review: infrastructure funding; government contracting; A&E selection; liability reform; taxes; licensing; and regulatory reform. The SEAW delegate meets with AELC biweekly throughout the year and weekly during the legislative session.
In the past year, the committee worked on a SB6465 that was a threat to licensure and was able to provide support to the Executive Director of the Washington Board of Registration for Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors (BRPELS) on the practice of structural engineering in WA so that the bill language was amended to leave the authority to the BRPELS in establishing the applicant’s qualifications meet the requirements established by the board.
State Building Code: SEAW has a delegate to the WA State Building Code Council (WA SBCC) and is appointed by the Governor to represent Structural Engineers on the Council. The Council establishes the minimum building, mechanical, fire, plumbing and energy code requirements necessary to promote the health, safety and welfare of the people of the state of Washington, by reviewing, developing and adopting the state building code.
In the past year, SEAW actively engaged with the WA State Building Code Council in supporting the delay of the adoption of 2018 IBC into our State Building Code due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The normal cycle of adoption was July 2020 and is now delayed to February 2021. That document can be found here.
SEAW/WABO Liasion Committee: SEAW works with the Washington Association of Building Officials (WABO) in developing white papers on the guidelines and policies that address permitting and building code intrepretation issues. These guidelines and policies help with some local jurisdictions that do not have the same resources as the larger jurisdiction such as City of Seattle and aim to strive for consistency in the permit applications as well as code interprations. Just to name a few of the whitepapers developed so far: Deferred Submittals, Threaded Rod Holdown Systems in Wood Frame Buildings, Guidelines for Determining Snow Loads in Washington State, Phased Approvals in Permitting, Guideline - Structural Plan Review Philosophy. www.seaw.org/codeswhite-papers
Disaster Preparedness/Response Committee: The committee is charged with the responsibility of communicating and interfacing with the public agencies responsible for reacting to earthquake and other emergencies, as well as organizing and conducting appropriate emergency responder trainings such as ATC-20 and ATC-45. There is an onging work for the committee to develop and implement WAsafe, Washington State’s post-disaster building safety evaluators program, SEAW has worked and coordinated with the State agency - Washington Emergency Management Division (WA EMD), as well as other professional organizations. For example, the state’s Good Samaritan Law that protected individual volunteer building safety evaluators did not cover organizations like SEAW that trained, organized, and coordinated its members as volunteer building safety evaluators. After gaining the support of the WA EMD, the state code was revised so that Good Samaritan protection was extended to organizations like SEAW. SEAW also collaborated with WA EMD staff to write a state report that recommended WAsafe as a ready-to-launch program which could be implemented at a very low cost to the state. This recommendation led to the Memorandum of Understanding between the WA Military Department – the WA EMD is a division under the Military Department – and the WAsafe professional organizations that defines the roles and responsibilities of the WA EMD and the WAsafe Coalition of professional organizations (SEAW, AIA WA, and WABO). This MOU is the basis of the WAsafe program.