Thursday, January 25, 2018

2018 SB 87 School Security Locks

[Update: The bill was amended to remove the ADA concern for the bill, but it still has a major life safety concern as stated below]

In 2011, during my first session as a new legislator, I heard the phrase, Dead kids make bad laws. I asked for more information and found that legislators, wanting to protect kids, have sometimes over reacted when a child dies in creating new laws. The goal was good, but they didn't take take to look at the different ramifications of the proposed law. In some cases it has taken years to undo the damage of the bad rushed bill.

Yesterday I became aware of a new such bill.

S.B. 87 School Security Locks

What does the bill do? 

This bill: amends the International Building Code and International Fire Code regarding: hardware height on a door for certain occupancies in lockdown or during a lockdown drill; and door operations provisions for locks and bolt locks, and latching and unlatching, for certain occupancies in lockdown or during a lockdown drill.

But there are dead kids, so the bill has to pass to make parents feel safer.

If the bill were to pass, is there a simple amendment that would save lives?

Lines 48 and 102. Change the words "two operations" to "one operation" on both lines.
What will that do?

It will allow children to get out of a classroom faster during an emergency and could save lives.

Won't that gut the bill?

No, there are already countless existing building code approved "barricade classroom function" locks on the market and many of the existing classroom looks can be field modified to allow the door to be locked from the inside of the room and not just the outside.

There is only one lock manufacturer that makes an aftermarket barricade classroom lock that can be opened from the outside with a special key that is the target of the bill. If the bill is amended, that lock won't be installed in schools, but other building code approved locks can be installed.

Won't that cost the school district more money? Not necessarily. The more expensive "Mortise" type locks, can be field modified saving money, providing the security and safety. The less expensive "Cylinder" type locks can be replaced with less expensive locks that allow the door to be locked from either the inside or the outside with a key, but allow the children on the inside to get out without a key or slowing them down.

Is there any other problems with the bill? Yes

for decades, the US Department of Justice has determined that the combination of the current International Building Code and the Accessible and Usable Buildings and Facilities ICC A117.1 is equivalent  to the building design requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADAAG) without dragging the architect into a civil rights law for liability.

As currently written, I believe SB 87 violates both ICC A117.1 and ADAAG and would NOT allow someone in a wheelchair to lock the door, but more importantly unlock the door to get out of the classroom.

Are you saying that in your opinion that SB 87 as currently drafted violates ADA and could open architects, district and the state to lawsuits re: ADA? Yes

So is the bill as originally drafted worse that than passing nothing? Yes

Is any related bill needed? Good question.

Any classroom I have ever seen has a lock on it that can be secured to protect the occupants, but the traditional "Classroom Function" lock requires a key to be used to lock the door from the outside (protects the teacher from being locked out and protects students from being dragged into a classroom and locked in and harmed. That isn't bad, but in the new age of shootings, it doesn't allow the door to be locked from the inside. The door always opens from the inside without a key in one operation.

The newer building code complaint "barricade classroom function" locks are the same as the old ones, but also allow someone on the inside to lock the door with a key. In a shooting situation, this is quicker and safer, but still allows someone on the inside (including in a wheelchair) to open the door with one operation and no key.

IF the Utah legislature wants to require certain new school classrooms to have the barricade classroom function locks, the ones that meet current code and allow only one operation to get out of the room and requires no key to get out of the room, they could substitute or amend the bill to require that.

Should the current bill pass? No

Can it be amended? Lines 48 and 102. Change the words "two operations" to "one operation" on both lines.

Is there a better option? Yes, debate whether or not it is good policy to require certain new classrooms to have the newer code complient locks that allow locking from both sides of the door.

What about the State Fire Marshall's office? If you go to the Governor's office, you limit what the state fire marshall's office can say and do, and they can not create policy. I personally met yesterday with the person in the office that gave the sponsor the language to change the building code. If Lines 48 and 102 were changed from "two operations" to "one operation" on both lines., he would not be personally opposed to the bill.

Disclaimer. I am an architect who has be using the building codes and has been designing to meet ADA and ICC A117 for decades.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Why the 2017 Homeless bill should have been amended before passage

In 2016 I voted FOR 2 Homeless bills, designed to help the homeless and AGAINST the one taking away Midvale's right to have any say in the shelter they had being year round or not. This last year, 2017, I was not in the House of Representatives and did NOT vote for the bill taking way West Valley's or South Salt Lake's ability to have any control as to where Mayor McAdams wanted to put the new shelter.  The proposed locations were terrible. 

As a Rotary member, we have been helping a center with a great record of helping single parents get housing and employment.

After the bill passed in 2017, I provided specific location issues for sites proposed, and even the size of some of them. See:

I didn't say it shouldn't be in any one city, including ours. I personally spoke to Mayor McAdams more than once on this issue and attended all the public meetings. Each city had a place that would actually work, but they were not asked as I stated. Proposing on locating a homeless shelter next to a school for teen age girls that were expecting or recently became a single parent was more than silly, and that was just one of the several locations proposed. The Legislature voting to give the county mayor that power was dangerous. (Disclaimer, Sen. McAdams was the senator sponsor of several of my bills in 2011 and 2012 including my bi-partisan congressional district redistricting map proposal).

Did anyone realize that the  H.B. 441 Housing and Homeless Reform Initiative Amendments was going to be a bad bill and not just a funding bill? Yes. 

West Valley City officials told their representatives in the House and Senate that the Homeless Bill had this problem and not to vote for it as drafted.  All House Members voted for the bill initially, (one in Utah County eventually voted no) including the ones that heard George Chapman in the House Standing Committee tell them what the bill would do to city rights and that it needed to be amended. Our local State House Member voted for the bill.

One West Valley City State Senator, Sen. Thatcher, brought this issue up to the Senate during floor debate and had the bill passage put on pause, (circled) until the Governor's office promised that the cities would not be railroaded if the bill passed. It is surprising the House didn't have the same discussion.When that did happen, Sen. Thatcher was one of the first to cry foul.

Now that the proposal is to build the facility near the Jordan River Parkway, there is a new proposal to turn the Parkway over to the State as a State Park, with the main reason the Homeless near the river. It would have been better not to locate the facilities near the river in the first place.

It there any one thing that started the problem to where Homelessness in the areat got out of hand? 
I believe yes.

Many of the homeless that were downtown until the recent relocation were from out of state, and they were sent by other cities to Salt Lake City when past Mayor Becker announced: in 2014 to 2015:

"We are 90 percent of the way with the housing-first model toward eliminating homelessness for our chronically homeless in this city. It is an incredible national achievement that is recognized every day."—Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker, at the Poverty Summit, Aug. 29, 2015

Utah has its own share of problems in this area, without trying to solve it for other places in the nation. We will do better to follow programs that work, such as the Family Support Center LifeStart Village and not removing state and county funding for it and providing for programs that have not been tested or have proven to fail.