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Relating to safety requirements of assisted living facilities.
This bill would require the executive commissioner to by rule specify an edition of the Life Safety Code of the National Fire Protection Association to be used in making life safety requirements for an assisted living facility. The bill would also require that at least twice a year the commission issue a technical memorandum on the interpretation of minimum life safety code standards and post the memorandum on the commission’s website. The memorandum would be considered binding; there is also a provision stating that this section would not affect the commissioner's rule making process. The bill would also allow a municipal fire marshal to grant a waiver for a violation of a life safety requirement if it will have no adverse effect on safety of residents.
The bill would add the provision that the Department of Licensing and Regulation governs the interpretation and enforcement of accessibility standards in assisted facilities and a provision that prohibits an assisted living facility that passed an on-site inspection by the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation during the initial licensing relating to compliance with accessibility standards from being cited by the commission for a violation relating to accessibility standards.
Lastly, the bill would add the provision that a governmental unit that adopts a building code or fire code governs the interpretation and enforcement of that code. The bill would prohibit the commission from citing a violation of a building or fire code adopted by a governmental unit to an assisted living facility that provides evidence of the governmental unit's determination that they are compliant with that code.
This bill addresses a conflict between governments and seeks to establish a uniform standard, which in our view is a procedural change that does not substantively impact our principles.
Though the change is not one the grows or shrinks government, it is worth pointing out that such conflicts and programs that this bill deals with should not exist in the first place. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) is a private organization that has long set the standards related to life safety and local businesses are capable of following the recommendations published by the NFPA voluntarily. It is not a necessity for government to impose such regulations because entities and consumers already have a vested interest in self-regulation.
Because this is a procedural bill, we remain neutral.