Plumbing negotiations continue

Negotiations are going over the weekend that could decide whether plumbers will have follow the International Plumbing Code instead of the 90-year-old Louisiana State Plumbing Code.

Republican State Rep. Erich Ponti, who is a Baton Rouge contractor and sponsor of House Bill 1048, confirmed he had been meeting with opponents.

He breakfasted with Jim Bernhard, the Baton Rouge businessman who founded The Shaw Group, and lunched with union leaders.

Ponti said a lot of different scenarios have been discussed, but no deal has been cut.

The possibilities include adopting specific language from the Louisiana code into the International Code, like how to vent toilets, for instance. Another possibility is adopting the International Code for residences and keeping the Louisiana Code for commercial construction.

But Ponti stressed no agreement has been reached and that negotiations would continue through the weekend.

Hundreds of plumbers, union members and other opponents last week stalked State Capitol halls in fluorescent green t-shirts.

Members of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Consumer Protection and International Affairs voiced reservations about the legislation. Chairman Danny Martiny, R-Metairie, said he was unsure if the two sides would ever find common ground.

Many plumbers, union members, and construction industry lobbyists took Sen. Martiny’s statements as a broad hint that HB1048 would fail if the vote was taken at that time.

The committee, instead, gave Ponti a week to try to find a compromise.