Serving Franklin County, WA

Bill would help Winona, other fire victims rebuild

House Bill 1899 introduced by Rep. Volz

SPOKANE – Rep. Mike Volz wants to give 2023 wildfire victims more say in rebuilding homes and property that were destroyed.

Volz, R-Spokane, introduced House Bill 1899, which would require municipal governments to allow property owners the ability to use either state building codes in effect Jan. 1, 2023, or new state building codes at the time of reconstruction.

Under House Bill 1899, any building permit application for property damaged or destroyed by a wildfire during 2023, while an emergency proclamation from the governor was in effect, could be permitted and built in accordance with the state building code and energy codes that were in effect on Jan. 1, 2023. A hearing on the bill took place Jan. 23.

The bill, if it becomes law, would sunset June 30, 2025.

Volz said the bill would pave the way for Winona, Gray and Oregon Road fire victims to rebuild without worrying about new, complicated building and energy codes getting in the way.

"So many people lost their homes or businesses," he said. "Now, they are trying to rebuild, but the current state building codes are complicating those efforts.

"These new codes could add tens of thousands of dollars to the reconstruction cost, which would prevent many people from being able to move forward."

According to Volz, new codes established after the fires are slowing the permitting and rebuilding process.

"There is also some doubt as to whether insurance companies will cover these new charges," he said. "These code changes and insurance questions will only cause additional delays for those people who are simply trying to recover and get people back to a normal way of life."

The policy would take effect immediately if passed and signed into law.


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