Senate OKs change to plumbing code

After narrowly defeating an amendment to put everything under a single, new plumbing code, the state Senate Wednesday night approved legislation that would have residential work adhere to the new code, while leaving commercial projects under the existing regulations.

The Senate approved House Bill 1048 on a 36-3 vote.

The measure must return to the House for consideration of a Senate Commerce Committee amendment that would require plumbers to meet the standards set out in the International Plumbers Code. But plumbing on commercial projects would continue to have to meet the Louisiana Plumbing Code.

Louis Reine, president of the Louisiana AFL-CIO, said after the Senate vote that while not necessarily happy with any change in the code, plumbers can at least continue operating under the split codes.

Each time HB1048 was debated during the past few weeks, hundreds of green-shirted plumbers and their backers, who opposed changing codes, stalked the halls along with an almost equal number of contractors wearing red shirts who backed the move to a single code. Both sides were in the Senate galleries to watch the vote.

Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Danny Martiny, R-Metairie, repeatedly told his colleagues that neither side was happy with the split arrangement, but it was added to advance the legislation.

State Sen. Conrad Appel, R-Metairie, said he, for one, thought having some projects under one code and other projects under a different code would breed confusion. He proposed an amendment that would strip out the wording creating the split arrangement and return the measure to roughly the way it was when the House approved it.

The Senate voted 18 for and 20 against rejecting an amendment.

HB1048 sponsor, state Rep. Erich Ponti, R-Baton Rouge and a contractor, stood alone in the back of the Senate chamber for the vote on the Appel amendment.

“We wanted the bill in the original posture,” Ponti said. “I’m pleased that the bill passed but I’m not happy with the posture it’s in.”