There will be more bills introduced this session aimed at reforming Colorado’s construction defect litigation, which proponents say is a way to address the slowdown in housing construction across the state.
That was the big news to come out of the state Senate leadership’s media availability on Monday. Senate President Kevin Grantham, R-Canon City, promised not just one, but a collection of bills on the issue.
“It has been pretty clear, not just over the course of the session but prior to that, that we’ll be looking at a pretty comprehensive package of bills that will cover the topic,” he said. “[Senate Bill] 45 is just the beginning and we’re still talking with the [House] chamber to see what their concerns are.
“We’re looking at dropping [the bills] maybe as soon this week,” he said.
Lawmakers have been trying and failing to find a compromise solution to the thorny construction defects issue for years. Gov. John Hickenlooper and Democratic and Republican legislative leaders have made finding solutions a top priority this year.
Indeed, Grantham and House Speaker Crisanta Duran, D-Denver, came fast out of the gate with Senate Bill 45, which they co-sponsored together. The bill would grant greater power to judges to speed up defects cases in an effort to push down legal fees and apportion liability among parties. This, they say, will lower individual settlement fees. The measures are meant to lower developer and contractor insurance rates.
The bill was praised for its creative and bipartisan approach, but it also fueled consternation at the Capitol. Builder and home owner groups seemed surprised by its introduction.
The bill also came emerged from the gate a lone horse in the race, and there was no official announcement explaining that it was just an opening shot on the issue. On the contrary, Democratic House sources told The Colorado Statesman that, for now at least, Senate Bill 45 was all there was on the topic, “the whole kit and caboodle.”
Grantham suggested there was great motivation this year to move ahead on the issue, and perhaps by not getting bogged down with pre-introduction negotiation with multiple interested parties.
“I’m excited to see some of that stuff get through that we haven’t been able to get accomplished in recent years, and it looks like we’re finally on the cusp of getting something done,” he said.
Bills to come might likely seek to lower the number of lawsuits filed against builders by, for example, moving cases to arbitration or requiring plaintiffs to pay for some court costs.
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