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Lack of building codes enhances quake danger

September 02, 1999
By: Amanda Campbell
State Capital Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - After the recent earthquake in Turkey that caused thousands of deaths due to poor construction, some Missouri lawmakers warn the same thing could happen in Missouri.

Like country Turkey, Missouri has no state-wide building codes, and potential earthquakes along the New Madrid fault may put Missourians in harms way.

"If we have a major earthquake, we will have a real disaster in the state," said Rep. Bill Boucher, D-Kansas City. Boucher and other lawmakers have sponsored legislation in the past two years that would require all counties in Missouri to build up to code.

Some of Missouri's smaller counties are not required to have building codes, but cities in Missouri and the state's bigger counties must follow the codes.

Boucher said that his building code legislation was killed in the Senate by rural lawmakers.

"Rural Missourians don't like people telling them what to do," Boucher said.

Sen. Dan Staples, D-Eminence, is one of those rural lawmakers who argues against statewide building codes.

"I don't feel that it is my duty to cause people to build new homes with their hard earned money so they can be up to code, however, when we build a state structure with taxpayers money, it should be built up to code," said Staples who represents rural southeast Missouri.

Boucher said he expects some building code legislation will be discussed when the legislature goes into session.

"We're not going to give in," he said. "I hope this legislation is passed before we have a major problem."