This piece was originally published in the October 2018 issue of electroindustry.
Madeleine Bugel, Manager, State and International Government Relations, NEMA
NEMA has consistently advocated for timely adoption of the most current version of the National Electrical Code® (NEC) without amendments that would diminish its effectiveness.
In the past, tenacious staff and Members working on code adoption have fought code adoption issues as they arose, usually after the advocates opposing timely and necessary code adoption got involved in legislative or regulatory processes. We must think differently about our approach.
Since there is no method for federal electrical code adoption, this battle comes on the state level. With each of the 50 states embracing a unique code adoption process, the methodology is different in every state. How, then, do we prepare for different processes and challenges in 50 distinctive states, to ensure that everyone in the nation has sufficient electrical protection?
NEMA is addressing this predicament not a moment too soon. With many states having adopted the 2017 NEC, our minds are turning to the NEC 2020 adoption. There is a high level of electrical safety in the country because of quality electrical products combined with proper installation and inspection. Many states, however, push back on expansions of electrical protection in the new versions of the NEC, sometimes even attempting to revert to the less comprehensive protection of older codes. We cannot allow this to happen.
In order to engage states on different levels than in the past, a significant part of this effort is engaging Members on the ground and helping legislators and regulators realize that this issue is close to home. A grassroots effort is vital to convincing the states that electrical safety provided by the NEC should be incorporated into a state’s code.
The main elements of this campaign are:
To facilitate local-level action, constituents may contact their legislators and express their concerns about code adoption through the NEMA Action Center.
Hosting legislators at facilities in their districts is another valuable tool to educate lawmakers about the benefits of timely code adoption.
NEMA is working with other safety-minded groups to support a more comprehensive course to safety. We are spearheading a Safe Schools Codes and Standards Initiative through which we will hope to organize a coalition of groups such as the Secure Schools Alliance, Council of Chief State School Officers, and National Association of State Fire Marshals. This coalition will create a comprehensive code package that will cover school safety needs. A more cohesive approach to safety will help states keep their students safe.
As the political landscape changes, so must our tactics to advocate for timely code adoption. If you have questions or suggestions, contact Madeleine Bugel, firstname.lastname@example.org, 703.841.3222.