In defending their opposition to SB 6385, the Homeowner’s Bill of Rights, several Democratic representatives have been responding to constituents with BIAW talking points, but by far the most transparently silly is this line of defense, which has been put forward in one form or another by multiple legislators:
A law passed by the legislature years ago to protect condominium owners had an unintended consequence of creating an “insurance crisis.” Because insurance for building condominiums was not available, the town center of Mercer Island has 400 plus apartments!
During the last five years, the legislature, through passage of “Cure,” “Affirmative Defense” and “Condominium Act” reform, began the process of bringing back predictability to the contractor insurance market that had been damaged from earlier Legislation. This was in response to the lack of insurance available to builders–especially condo builders.
SB 6385 would undo all that has been gained and would force medium and small contractors out of business because they would not be able to obtain third-party warranties and general liability insurance. At the very least, the cost of housing would dramatically increase for all new homebuyers.
Forget for a moment that this “insurance crisis” was created by damage claims arising from crappy construction, and that if builders and insurers had wanted to avert this crisis they could have implemented a construction inspection program instead of waiting for the Legislature to mandate one. And disregard the fact that SB 6385 merely gives single family homebuyers the same protections currently granted condo buyers today, including those reforms of the last five years, so the bill doesn’t actually “undo” anything.
Forget all that. Let’s just assume for the sake of argument that the statements above are irrefutable fact, and if so… wouldn’t that imply that Speaker Frank Chopp and the other conscientious defenders of affordable housing should be working their asses off to repeal the condo warranties? Don’t condo developers deserve the same immunity from lawsuits currently enjoyed by developers of single family homes? Isn’t anybody going to protect our state’s vulnerable builders from the predatory practices of their own customers? Mercer Island already has (gasp) “400 plus apartments” for God’s sake… when will this savagery end?
You see where I’m going.
Unlike others, I don’t entirely blame the Eastside Democrats who are doing the BIAW’s dirty work; they either believe the talking points they spew, or they’ve made the shrewd political calculation that this is what they need to do to hold office in their swing districts. (Or, perhaps, some combination of the two.) But the Dems don’t need their votes to pass this bill in the House, so in the end, it all comes down to Speaker Chopp. So what is it Frank…? Who deserves your protection more, homebuyers or condo builders? Because if you’re gonna stand by and quietly watch your members repeat BIAW bullshit like this, you are laying the groundwork for the latter.