Legislative Panel Puts Off Stronger Earthquake Code

LITTLE ROCK, AR - A legislative committee has put off a review of the state's building code after lawmakers questioned costs related to making structures withstand earthquakes that come once every 2,500 years.

Firefighters and others support the new regulations to the Arkansas Fire Prevention Code, since the state sits along the New Madrid fault.  However, lawmakers referred the changes to another committee and said it would take up the rules again next month.

Arkansas State Police Lt. Lindsey Williams told the Administrative Rules and Regulations Committee Thursday that the changes would bring the code up to date with the 2006 International Building Code.  Current state laws require buildings to withstand less severe earthquakes that come an average of once every 500 years.

Several committee members and witnesses questioned whether the earthquake safety provisions were necessary.  Senator Kim Hendren of Gravette says he's worried about the economic impact if prospective businesses have to spend more on their buildings than they would outside the seismic zone.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)