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SPECIAL AUDIO REPORT: Assembly To Hear Seismic Retrofit Legislation

Two bills (SB 1661 and SB 167) to extend seismic safety compliance deadlines are scheduled for hearings in the Assembly next week, as hospital construction costs have increased 66% over the last three years.

The seismic retrofit law was passed in 1994. Currently, hospitals are required to make improvements to buildings by 2008 or seek an extension until 2013. More than one-third of the 2,700 hospitals in the state require retrofits.

SB 1661 by Sen. Dave Cox (R-Roseville) would grant hospitals a two year extension to comply with the law, as long as they “are acting in good faith” to meet the mandate deadline, Cox said.

SB 167 by Sen. Jackie Speier (D-San Mateo) would use new technology to reevaluate which hospitals are most at risk during an earthquake. Hospitals that have a lower risk than originally assessed would have until 2020 to comply with the law, but would have to meet stricter requirements by 2030.

The California Hospital Association supports both bills. CHA spokesperson Jan Emerson said of Speier’s bill, “30[%] or 40% potentially” of hospital building classified as the highest risk “are probably not as risky as originally thought.”

However, CHA opposes a proposal to include funding for retrofit in a state infrastructure bond package because they are concerned it would not provide enough money (Rebillot, California Healthline, 6/21).

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