On April 27th, a House Committee of the Colorado General Assembly voted against a motion to send SB 15-177 to the entire House of Representatives for further consideration. The House State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee voted 6 to 5 along party lines not to refer the bill to the entire House. Shortly after that vote, the Committee voted to postpone consideration of the bill indefinitely. These actions effectively ended the construction defect “reform” bill for this legislative session.
The Committee heard testimony from approximately 25 witnesses during six hours of testimony. Proponents of the bill claimed that multi-family housing for sale was being stifled by construction defect lawsuits and that the low supply of such housing was proof of the deterrent effect of defect lawsuits. The proponents included a broad coalition of construction, lending and housing groups. Notably absent from the proponents’ testimony was anyone from the insurance industry to connect lawsuits with insurance premium increases.
The bill’s opponents included many homeowner association board members, who testified to the difficulties and hurdles to pursue existing lawsuits, and how the SB 15-177’s notice and owner voting requirements would make it impossible to ever obtain approval for any legal action. Opponents also testified to the impacts caused by shoddy construction in many Colorado communities. One legislator stated that she heard testimony last night that construction defects impacted over 2,000 of her constituents.
I testified how the proposed legislation tilted the scales of justice too far in favor of developers and builders. I also testified concerning Colorado constitutional and statutory protections for equal access to justice which SB 15-177 would undermine. A copy of my written testimony is attached.
The lobby seeking easier and more relaxed rules favoring builders is strong and well-funded. This bill will come back in another form in the next legislative session. But for now, Colorado construction defect law remains the same.