Will there be a construction defects bill in 2010? When will we know?

On the front page of today’s Denver Business Journal, Ed Sealover wrote an article entitled, “Builders fear another version of the construction-defects bill.”  In the article, Mr. Sealover notes that Senator Morse introduced SB 10-045 of the first day of the session, which is entitled “The Homeowner Protection Act of 2010.”  In the article, Mr. Sealover stated:

Because of the bill’s broad title and lack of movement, homebuilders fear Morse and sponsoring Rep. Andy Kerr, D-Lakewood, could gut its language – and replace it with language from last year’s SB 246 – in a late-session move.  Morse, in an interview, insisted he won’d do that and said he hopes to send the measure to Gov. Bill Ritter as a mortgage-protection bill. 

But Kerr, who often has clashed with homebuilders, hasn’t ruled out doing just what they fear.  While he and Morse are more likely to bring a construction-defects bill next year, Kerr acknowledged that substituting such language into a mortgage-protection bill isn’t out of the question.

“I think just like any other issue [homebuilders] are concerned about, they should know that all options are on the table,” said Kerr, the assistant House majority leader.  “I have not talked to Sen. Morse about doing that.  I have not talked to the advocates of 246 last year about that … I guess anything is possible at this point.”

Referring to the Democratic leadership’s previous e-mail to Democratic precinct caucus attendees, along with the accompanying resolution and professionally-produced video, discussed here, Mr. Sealover reported:

The two legislators, along with House Speaker Terrance Carroll, D-Denver, and Senate President Brandon Shaffer, D-Longmont, asked attendees at Democratic caucuses this year to support a resolution calling on Democrats to back legislators to restore “homeowner rights.”  That resolution, calling for homeowners to have “the same basic legal protections builders have,” was needed in preparation for a 2011 reintroduction of the 2009 bill in order to fight the homebuilders’ lobby, Morse said.

Interestingly, none of the links from the Democratic leadership communication remain live and the video, starring Senator Morse, along with Representatives Carroll and Kerr, which was previously available on YouTube, has been made private.  Clearly, the Democratic leadership did not want anyone to know what they were up to or what their strategies may be.

Homebuilders will oppose any bill that reinstates the longer-calculating interest in lawsuits.  But substituting such overhauling language into a bill that’s supposed to be about something else this year, rather than just running a bill on construction defects, seems dishonest, [Mr. Rob] Nanfelt [executive vice president of the Colorado Association of Home Builders] said. 

*     *     *

Morse said he introduced SB 45 to help out-of-work Coloradans who have gone into foreclosure by giving them some more leeway without extending indefinitely the mortages of people who will never be able to pay them.  The bill stalled because the Senate has concentrated on other big issues and because he’s still in negotiations with both sides of the mortgage issue, he said.  But it should move forward in a couple of weeks.

“What it’s trying to do is make sure people don’t go into foreclosure unless they absolutely have to,” he said.  “I intend to pass this bill out of the Senate dealing with foreclosures.”

The questions now remain: 1) Will the bill deal with anything else when it passes out of the Senate?; and 2) When will the Democratic leadership get down to the business of governing the state and stop playing these games with the homebuilding industry?

To follow SB 10-045, you can visit the Colorado General Assembly’s website. To stay abreast of legislative changes in Colorado which will impact the litigation of construction claims, please contact David M. McLain by e-mail at mclain@hhmrlaw.com or by telephone at (303) 987-9813. Otherwise, you can visit our website and sign up for our legislative monitoring e-mails.


To learn more about our firm, call or e-mail us today to schedule a meeting with a member of our team