Maryland closed a loophole in its building code with a law signed May 16. The measure prevents jurisdictions from weakening Maryland's Building Performance Standards for wind design and windborne debris resistance.

"The legislation signed by Gov. [Martin] O'Malley (D) corrects a previous flaw in the...statewide building code," says Debra Ballen, general counsel and senior vice president of public policy for the Institute of Business & Home Safety—a Tampa, Fla.-based insurance industry group. The flaw Ballen refers to allows local amendments to weaken the wind resistance provisions in Maryland Building Performance Standards, which Ballen says are "based on the model International Residential Code (IRC)."

By passing this law, "Maryland comes much closer to the IRC model code requirements adopted and enforced in the states with the strongest building code systems," says Ballen.

Building codes are important to IBHS members, insurance companies that must cover insured losses to buildings damaged by heavy weather. The group has built a dedicated test facility in South Carolina to run full-scale wind, rain, hail and firestorm tests of building material assemblies.

The measure takes effect Oct. 1.