Important victory in BIAW’s Building Code Council appointment challenge
March 11, 2022
BIAW celebrated an important legal victory on Friday, March 11, in its challenge to the Governor’s building code council appointment process.
Thurston County Superior Court Judge James Dixon denied the defendant’s motion for partial summary judgment. As a result, the case will continue forward.
“This decision confirms our concerns about the Governor’s decision to break the law in his most recent appointments to the building code council,” said BIAW General Counsel Jackson Maynard. “We look forward to resolving these concerns so our industries are fairly represented.”
Background: BIAW’s Building Code Council Appointment Challenge
The state’s two largest construction trade associations, BIAW and the Associated General Contractors of Washington (AGC) filed a lawsuit in September 2021. The groups allege Gov. Jay Inslee ignored the law in making appointments to the State Building Code Council (SBCC). The groups allege Inslee illegally appointed two individuals to fill vacancies on the council specifically reserved for nominees provided by residential and commercial construction trade associations.
“We carefully negotiated this law to require the governor to appoint people nominated by their industry,” said BIAW’s Executive Vice President Greg Lane. “The Building Code Council makes critical decisions that impact not only our industries but hundreds of thousands of homeowners and businesses. The law was designed to ensure industries directly affected by the code have a voice in changes made and the timing of their implementation for the good of those we serve.”
The lawsuit asks the court to declare these appointments unlawful and to require the governor to appoint the two representatives from the lists of nominees provided. It also asks the court to prohibit the governor’s appointees from serving as voting members of the council.
The law reserves one of the two general contracting positions for residential construction and another for commercial construction. It also requires the governor to appoint only people who have been nominated by trade associations representing those specific industries unless those trade associations fail to submit nominees. This ensures that groups impacted by the code have a role in changes made to the code and the timing of their implementation.
As required under the law, both BIAW and AGC submitted nominees to fill the vacancies. The governor appointed a King County builder who was not on the list of three BIAW provided to fill the residential construction appointment. The governor then appointed a member of the plumbers’ union to the commercial construction position. This appointment was not only unqualified as a representative of the industry, it also was not the nominee provided by AGC.