The Senate Labor and Industry Committee passed a bill this week setting sensible safety standards for barns and other farm buildings being converted for weddings and other social events.

Senate Draft 191, sponsored by Senator Judy Ward (R-30), would allow farmers to file an annual affidavit that their venue meets certain safety standards to reduce the costly requirements set out in the state’s unified building code for buildings where Weddings, receptions and the like take place, events are included.

Family businesses face major challenges and difficulties in keeping their businesses profitable and maintaining their businesses for the next generation. Farmers try to supplement their income through agrotainment or agrotourism activities on their land. However, current regulations require that venues hosting these events meet costly building codes, Ward said.

“Several farmers in my district have raised concerns that weddings and other special events cannot be legally hosted because they do not have sprinklers and other costly features that cost tens of thousands of dollars to install,” said Ward. “We need to ensure that state law provides farmers wishing to host these events a responsible balance between guest safety and financial costs.”

Ward’s bill would continue to require the conversion of farm buildings to meet a range of safety standards, including the availability of working smoke detectors, fire extinguishers and signage to indicate all external entrances in the event of a fire. Smoking and all open flames would also be prohibited. In addition, the owners would have to take out liability insurance.

Senate Law 191 was sent to the entire Senate for consideration.

The bill is supported by the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau and the Pennsylvania State Grange.

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