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Jason McCool 
Member since May 23, 2016

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Recent Comments

Re: “Legislation waives earthquake design standards for select projects

Oops, never mind, there's multiple articles on this subject with similar comments. Found my previous comment on the other thread. My bad. But this was still democrat-proposed and bipartisan-supported. So don't *just* blame republicans.

Posted by Jason McCool on 06/20/2016 at 11:18 AM

Re: “Legislation waives earthquake design standards for select projects

People keep mentioning "republicans", but this was proposed by a Democrat and voted for by all but 1 Senator (Democrat) and 1 Representative (Republican). With that kind of nearly unanimous support, y'all need to be blaming both parties. It's also rather curious that my previous comment has been removed. I knew the Arkansas Times was biased, but seriously? You can't even allow comments that don't fit in your view? Shame.

Posted by Jason McCool on 06/20/2016 at 10:55 AM

Re: “Engineers object to earthquake waiver legislation

A clarification for the author: I am one of the engineers who approved that SEAoAR statement, and it's not that the building code was "already watered down in 2012". It used reduced values where justified by current research. In some other areas of design, requirements were increased. But as engineers whose first obligation is to public safety, we always try to err on the side of caution first, then reduce requirements as we gain a more accurate understanding of phenomena like earthquakes. The legislation described (and passed today) flies in the face of the best and most current research we have available, in favor of seismic map data and design procedures from 1997 - almost 20 years ago. This bill has NO technical basis for the significant reduction desired, as opposed to the small reductions incorporated into the building code via consensus among the engineering community. As for now requiring us to use the 1997 code, the 1997 Southern Building Code isn't even an option in any of our design software anymore. This is such an embarrassing step backwards for Arkansas.

I urge people to imagine briefly that your son or daughter was going to work in a facility designed to standards that have been abandoned by the rest of the country, and contact their state representatives and senators to express their disapproval. The vote was 30-1 in the senate and 91-1 in the house in favor of less safe standards. Senator Flowers and Representative Jean were the only legislators to stand strong against this scheme.

As for the comments posted referencing fetuses, I'm not sure what the point is there. Good earthquake design and protection of babies are both strongly rooted in science and both are about protecting human life. As for the things in our favor mentioned by "couldn't be better", building codes are enforced by each state, not federal law. Insurance may be a possible route, as insurance companies can cut rates for buildings that exceed the minimums, at their discretion; but at this point, I don't know that an insurance company would or could do anything regarding a building that met the state minimum standards, even if they are ill-advised minimums. Yes, you are quite right that the current standards (that have been the result of years of study and debate by hundreds of engineers and seismologists) should not be changed over a 3 day session by a bunch of legislators unfamiliar with the technical merits. But we did our best to appear before both house and senate committees and explain the serious issues here. They were warned and the legislature bears the guilt now.

Posted by Jason McCool on 05/23/2016 at 5:20 PM


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