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Thursday, March 6, 2008

House Speaker Frank Chopp wavering on Homeowner's Bill on Rights

After refusing to comment on the Homeowner's Bill of Rights for KOMO News last night, House Speaker Frank Chopp finally stood in front of KOMO's camera several hours ago and admitted that he's holding up SB 6385 in the House Rules Committee because he isn't sure the bill is ready for prime time. As Chopp says:
"The House Judiciary Committee passed this bill both this year and last year. The Senate passed it, I understand the governor is in favor of it," he said.
That's correct, Mr. Speaker. Now Washington families are pleading with you to bring this bill before the floor of the state House for a vote.
"There are still various aspects that still need to be worked out."
And which aspects would those be, Mr. Speaker? This bill is modeled on already existing law that protects condo buyers. It won't take effect until 2009, so it gives the building industry time to prepare. The amended bill was carefully rewritten by House Judiciary Chair Pat Lantz, who did a terrific job. The bill has her full support. And Governor Gregoire's full support.

And still:
"I just think there are a lot of legitimate issues that have to be concerned about it and a lot of questions that still need to be answered about that particular proposal."
Getting very repetitive now:
"We're still working on it. There are some serious issues about when you consider this particular thing. There are still various aspects that still need to be worked out."
Which issues, Mr. Speaker? What questions?

Unless you can identify what concerns you're talking about, you're opening yourself up to the accusation that you are simply stalling this bill to death at the behest of the Building Industry Association of Washington.
"I've listened to quite a number of stakeholders on this who have not had the opportunity to participate in this particular bill."
Which stakeholders, Mr. Speaker? The BIAW? Are you saying that since SB 6385 wasn't specially drafted by their lawyers, they therefore did not "participate?" Is that what you mean? Because the BIAW did send representatives to the public hearings. They testified. They had the opportunity to participate.

And they took full advantage of it. They've been invited to sit at the table all along throughout this process. But they have no interest in collaboration. It's not their style. They play hardball. You know this, Mr. Speaker.

You let the Homeowner's Bill of Rights get buried under other legislation last year on purpose and you seem ready to do it again.

Enough excuses. Enough stalling. Victimized homeowners have suffered for too long to hear you say that more deliberation, more study is needed. SB 6385 builds on years of previously introduced legislation by Senator Kohl Wells, Representative Flannigan, Representative Williams, and Senator Weinstein.

SB 6385 is endorsed by your own committee chairs. It has passed the Senate. Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown is a strong supporter, as is the Governor, who is ready to sign. You are the only top Democratic leader in Olympia who has refused to endorse this bill. You represent the most progressive legislative district in the state. You ran for office to serve the people of Washington. You are in a position of great power, but with great power comes great responsibility.

Well, Mr. Speaker, we the people are depending on you and the Legislature to do your duty and ensure that millions of innocent homeowners receive a very basic safeguard to stop catastrophe in its tracks if there is a defect with their building.

A home is the most important investment most families will ever make. When something goes wrong with a family's home, that family's physical safety, health, financial security, and prosperity are all gravely jeopardized.

Mr. Speaker, you must act. The Democratic Party is the party of the people. The bill before you is a solid proposal. Now is the time to bring it to the floor. Now is the time for House Democrats to do what they were elected by their constituents to do. Now is the time for the Homeowner's Bill of Rights.

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