Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Homeowner's Bill of Rights in the House: Testimony on SB 6385

The House Judiciary Committee is holding a public hearing on SB 6385 - the only Homeowner's Bill of Rights legislation still alive in this biennium - tonight in the John L. O'Brien Building on the Capitol Campus in Olympia. The following is the text of my prepared testimony to the Committee.

Chair Lantz, Vice Chair Goodman, and Members of the Committee:

Good evening, and thank you for considering public input on the Homeowner’s Bill of Rights today. For the record, my name is Andrew Villeneuve. I am the executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, a netroots powered strategy center working to advance the common good through ideas and action.

For over a year, our organization has been hearing from Washington families who have, through no fault of their own, lost their life’s savings, their health, their ability to finance their children’s college education, and their prosperity because there was a defect or problem with the workmanship of their home.

We’ve listened to the stories of households that have learned the hard way that insurance and warranties don’t cover builder carelessness.

We’ve emphasized with people who are unable to even attempt to seek the justice they deserve because Washington doesn’t allow its residents to hold contractors accountable for negligent construction in court.

Immediate action is needed to provide relief for already victimized families and prevent future tragedies from inflicting terrible harm.

A home is the most important investment the vast majority of individuals and families will ever make. Insisting on basic safeguards to ensure the building industry is responsible is hardly unreasonable.

Last session, legislation to protect homeowners made it through the Senate but was unfortunately killed in the House of Representatives. This session, the Senate has passed SB 6385, but it can’t reach the governor’s desk unless it also receives the approval of this chamber.

We understand that there may be concerns about the language of the bill that passed the Senate among members of the House. We recognize that there is room for improvement and would like to work with you to ensure that this legislation moves forward. Shelving this matter again or simply requiring a study of the problem would be a disservice to the people of Washington.

We affirm the Legislature should be thoughtful in writing law, but we also believe that deliberation must be balanced with urgency. If SB 6385 needs to be strengthened or clarified, then by all means, let’s amend it so we can take the first step towards a complete Homeowner’s Bill of Rights in 2008.

Thank you.


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