WABO 2017 Annual Business Meeting - Tulalip, WA


Jay Elbettar, ICC Vice President, addressing the WABO members 


Summer finally arrived just in time for our Annual Business Meeting (ABM) held June 22nd and 23rd at the Tulalip resort in Maysville.  As usual WABO has a lot of activities happening and there was a lot to report on with several items needing member input.  Near the top of my list is the annual elections!  I want to thank all of our members for re-electing me as your President for a second one-year term.  I will continue to serve WABO to the best of my abilities and provide leadership and assistance to our talented membership.  I also want to congratulate and thank the other Officers and Committee Chairs that were elected.  Together these people make up the WABO Executive Board and the time they put into the service of WABO is greatly appreciated.  Please be thinking of how you can assist the Committee Chairs and become more involved in one or more committees.

Please read the committee reports included in this newsletter to see the issues our members are working on.  WABO’s influence on state issues is amazing and reflects the expertise our members bring to help solve state and national challenges.  WABO is financially sound and can provide resources to help resolve issues within the construction industry.  If you are aware of an issue that you think WABO should be involved with, please let me or another Board member know.

One of the most important national issues WABO is working on now is bringing better transparency to the ICC Board of Directors.  It has come to our attention that most ICC Board items are discussed in Executive Sessions, leaving the ICC members uninformed.  To address this concern, the WABO Board sent two letters to ICC President, Dwayne Garriss.  Our Board was not completely satisfied with President Garriss' response so we have submitted a resolution that will be presented at the ICC ABM on September 11th for a member vote.  The letters and the resolution are on WABO’s website.  Our resolution was validated by Jay Elbettar, ICC Vice President, who gave a very supportive and inspiring speech to the WABO membership at the ABM in Tulalip.  ICC Board member Brenda Thompson also provided a timely ICC update.  I had specially requested ICC President Garriss to appoint Brenda Thompson as WABO’s liaison to the ICC Board because of her past and unwavering support of WABO.  I am thankful to President Garriss for honoring my request.

Just as important as the resolution is supporting David Spencer in his bid to be elected to the ICC Board.  I have come to know David very well in the past few years and wholeheartedly endorse his election.  David has done a great job as WABO’s Government Relations Chair and helped WABO accomplish some of our top initiatives.  David is committed to doing whatever he can to improve transparency at the ICC Board of Directors and to make WABO’s voice heard.  It would be wonderful to have a Wabonian on the ICC Board again!  Please consider going to the ICC ABM so you can vote for the resolution and for David.

Finally, I am very encouraged with the growth in the WABO membership and especially the number of members, including all first-timers that have been attending our meetings recently.  The more engaged members we have, the better we can serve our association, our customers, and partners across the state.  I am very thankful to Simpson Strong-Tie and the West Coast Code Consultants for hosting another Wednesday evening networking event at Bob’s Burgers in Tulalip.  Events like this helps us to better know each other and makes us stronger.  I hope to see as many of you as possible at our next meeting in Chelan on October 19th and 20th, and please remember to bring a co-worker and/or a member of a neighboring jurisdiction with you!



Congratulations to the 2017 WABO Award Winners





Committee Reports

 Government Relations - Chair Dave Spencer, CBO, ACO

Washington lawmakers have passed a nearly $44 billion, two-year budget, averting an imminent government shutdown after multiple special sessions. The bipartisan vote in the afternoon of Friday July 30th followed months of partisan gridlock. In the waning hours of the fiscal year, the legislature delivered to the governor a budget that keeps the lights on. The budget puts the state on a path to spend 27-percent more over the next four years. The budget relies on a new state property tax levy that will be subject to a 1 percent cap after 2021.

During the legislative session, the WABO Legislative Committee, Amy Brackenbury - WABO lobbyist, President Tom Phillips, and many other WABO members spent countless hours working on various pieces of legislation. WABO was successful with one piece of legislation that was one of its highest priorities in the 2016/2017 session.  

SSB 5185: Providing immunity from liability for professional or trade associations providing emergency response volunteers. The bill prohibits an act or omission, by a covered volunteer emergency worker while engaged in a covered activity, from imposing any liability for civil damages resulting from the act or omission upon a professional or trade association of covered volunteer emergency workers.

The bill protects organizations like WABO and a coalition of organizations, including the Structural Engineers Association of Washington, the American Society of Civil Engineers, and the American Institute of Architects, who train volunteers for disaster response activities.

WABO was hopeful that HB 1622 would continue to be deemed necessary for the budget so that funding issues for the SBCC (State Building Code Council) could be addressed through the legislative budget process. Unfortunately it was not put within the final budget, and therefore future funding of the SBCC will remain and issue and a priority in the future for WABO and the committee.

Also, as previously reported at the spring meeting, SSB 5304/HB 1430 were not successful but did lead to another bill being introduced by IBEW (International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers). WABO was opposed to that bill (HB 1952). WABO members testified against HB 1952 and sent letters and emails to many legislators expressing our concerns. WABO’s bill eventually lead to further conversations and negotiations, that ultimately led to $2 million for cities to start electrical programs being put into the Senate budget. Unfortunately this funding was also not put into the final budget.

One of the later developments that was discussed during the WABO ABM was the impact of the Hirst Decision, which according to builders has limited access to water for development in rural communities and halted construction of housing in those areas. WABO will continue to follow this issue as it continues to develop.

At the ABM it was decided by the WABO Board and the membership that the legislative general positions and priorities will remain relatively the same from the 2016/2017 year for the coming session in 2017/2018. Those are:

  • Funding for State Building Code Council: The Washington State Building Code Council is mandated by state law to develop the building codes used in Washington and requires an increase in funding to accomplish their mission.
  • Protect Local Authority: WABO supports local authority of building code issues especially flexibility to implement the state building code in a way that supports local and regional circumstances without jeopardizing minimum fire and life safety requirements.
  • Code Cycle: WABO supports keeping Washington consistent with the national model code adoption cycle.
  • Underground Economy: WABO supports measures to protect the public from illegal contractors.
  • Electrical Code: WABO supports legislation that gives cities an equal voice in the development and adoption of the Washington State Electrical Code.
  • Unfunded Mandates: WABO recognizes that jurisdictions have limited fiscal capacity and opposes unfunded and under-funded mandates.
  • Seismic Retrofit: WABO supports legislation to assist building owners to retrofit existing seismically vulnerable buildings, in order to protect the public during an earthquake from collapsing structures, and to reduce the impact of seismic events by focusing on promoting economic resiliency of our communities.
  • IPC (International Plumbing Code): WABO supports legislation to reduce barriers for jurisdictions to use the International Plumbing Code.
  • Alternate Means & Methods of Construction: WABO acknowledges the importance for the ability and potential to receive and evaluate alternates. WABO opposes legislation though as State wide legislation could limit jurisdictions capabilities for accepting alternates based on special conditions, regional concerns, or other circumstances.
  • Residential Sprinklers: WABO supports the continued reduction of barriers for installation of residential sprinklers. Support legislation that will streamline regulation, recognize the various methods of system installation introduced by the IRC, encourage cost reduction, and maintain quality.     (e. g. Removal State fire sprinkler certifications for designing or installing a P2904 fire sprinkler systems.)

Other items may come up and can be added to the list as they arise. The Legislative Committee, Amy Brackenbury (WABO lobbyist), and President Tom Phillips will continue to work diligently for WABO and the membership in the coming session to insure our interests and concerns are communicated to the legislature.

I would personally like to thank the WABO Board and the membership for asking me to serve as you Government Relations/Legislative Chair for the past two years. It has been a great experience and I am grateful to be given the opportunity. I believe the committee is in a good place and will be continue to be successful with your newly elected chair Mark Sniffen. I plan to continue working with the legislative committee as much as possible in the future.  




Education Committee - Chair Steven Hart, CBO

Chairman Steve Hart was unable to attend this meeting due to workplace commitments and Gary Schenk filled in for him. The Education Committee met with the full membership and discussed the future venue options for the Annual Education Institute, which has been held at the SeaTac Marriott Hotel for a number of years. The AEI will again be held at the Marriott next year due to contractual arrangements, but in 2019, the committee voted to move the venue to the Tulalip Resort in Marysville.  This Education Committee's request to move the venue to Tulalip will be brought to the next Executive Board Meeting for discussion.

Gary floated the idea of reducing the class costs next year since the AEI continues to turn a profit. The discussion that ensued will lead to the topic being added to the Board Retreat Agenda for further discussion and consideration for possible approval.

The Committee then discussed the idea of offering webinars for the more remote or underfunded jurisdictions unable to participate in the regular educational offerings provided by WABO. After some discussion, one member pointed out that ICC offers a broad variety of webinars on several topics that will provide the same service to our members that we would be attempting to create. Given that getting into the webinar business is a huge undertaking requiring a lot of effort most of the members would not be able to commit to, it was decided that those interested in remote training should participate in the offerings provided by ICC for now. WABO does not need to compete with ICC if the service already exists. If this fails to meet our needs at some point, we will revisit the idea.

One final topic of discussion was whether WABO should offer a mini-institute at some other location outside of the greater Puget Sound area. WABO has tried this before with and without the cooperation of other state chapters with varying results, most of which would be considered less than acceptable. After much discussion, it was decided that the members will be responsible for taking a message out to their other chapters saying that WABO would be amenable to discussing any co-training events with other chapters in order to assist with their training needs. If partnering up with WABO on training in your area is of interest to you, please contact the WABO office.


Certification & Registration - Chair Pete Rambow, CBO, ACO

I am happy to say the Fire-resistant penetrations and joints certification program received a go-ahead from the C&R committee and was taken to the general membership and approved for the next category in WABO’s special inspection certifications.  This has been a long process with the help of several wonderful people: Mary Kate McGee, Tim Beckerle, Tom Smith, Jack Fingold, Jerry Abson, LG Nelson, King Drake, Jay Ponce, Gary Schenk, and Tara Jenkins.   Without their help and hard work this certification could not have been completed.

The next steps are to be completed in the WABO office and they will send out notifcations to the Special Inspection Agencies when the office is ready to accept applications.


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