N.C. House legislators want to study electrical safety requirements for swimming pools in the wake of an accident that killed a Raleigh high school student last year.
The provision is part of a broader deregulation bill that was introduced and approved in the House Regulatory Reform Committee Wednesday morning. The bill also addresses insurance requirements for small businesses, bed and breakfast regulations and environmental rules.
A news release from House Republicans said Senate Bill 16 has an overall goal of “Reducing red tape ... fixing broken bureaucratic processes and eliminating bad policies encourages economic growth.”
The pool safety provision comes after the electrocution death last September of Rachel Rosoff, a 17-year-old senior at Enloe High School who was working as a lifeguard. Investigators found that the water became electrified when a pump motor stopped working properly and a corroded wire prevented the flow of electricity that would have tripped the circuit breaker. The N.C. Department of Labor found “potential violations” of safety standards by the company managing the pool.
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The bill introduced Wednesday would order the state’s Building Code Council to review electrical safety requirements for swimming pools and recommend any changes needed to the legislature by the end of the year.
Another bill filed this year in the House by Republican Rep. Mitchell Setzer would require pool operators to install ground-fault circuit-interrupter protections on electrical circuits providing power to the swimming pool pump motor. A circuit interrupter is a safety device that cuts off power if it detects electricity flowing in an abnormal way.
Rep. Chris Millis, a Pender County Republican and co-sponsor of the new deregulation bill, said the study is a better approach for now.
“We wanted to stay in line with the Building Code Council,” he said. “The Building Code Council is pursuing action in that realm and we don’t want to conflict with them.”
Other provisions of the deregulation bill include:
Small business insurance rules: The bill would change the law that limits insurance companies from offering stop loss, catastrophic, or reinsurance coverage to employers who have fewer than 26 employees. The bill would allow those options for companies of all sizes.
“Reducing this regulatory hurdle for small businesses provides health coverage flexibility for their employees, who will have additional options to self-insure as premiums are expected to continue to rise under the Affordable Care Act,” Millis said in a news release.
Bed and breakfasts: The legislation includes another bill that already passed the House and would loosen regulations governing bed and breakfast businesses. Current law requires the cost of all meals served to be included in the room rate, but the change would allow the businesses to charge separately for lunch and dinner. It would also eliminate a cap on the total number of guests allowed.
Coastal environmental regulations: A section of the bill addressing coastal development regulations prompted opposition from Rep. Pricey Harrison, a Greensboro Democrat.
One provision addresses rainwater runoff requirements for redevelopment projects, while another prevents the state from requiring a stormwater permit for coastal developments that total less than 10,000 square feet. Millis said the change simply removes “a rule that was recently passed that conflicts with existing law.”
But Harrison said the provisions seem “to limit local control over stormwater.”
Vehicle inspections: Another study that would be initiated by the bill would look at whether safety and emissions inspections should be required less frequently. The study would also review if the inspections should include a check on the vehicle’s back-up lights.
Current law requires annual inspections, and Millis said the change could save drivers’ money. “We don’t need to be testing emissions as frequently as we are,” he said.