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Sunday, January 13, 2008

House Work

posted by on January 13 at 15:15 PM

During last year’s legislative session you’ll remember Sen. Brian Weinstein (D-41, Mercer Island) got a bill through the Senate giving consumers the right to sue contractors and builders for bad construction work. With much controversy, the bill was killed in the House.

Sen. Weinstein told me this morning that he’s bringing the bill back this year.

I’m not sure how far the bill will get, but Sen. Weinstein—who’s retiring after this session (he was originally elected in 2004)—seems in part motivated by a desire to take on House Speaker Frank Chopp (D-43, Wallingford.)

An e-mail from Sen. Weinstein says:

From my conversations with many stakeholders as well as the press last year, everyone took for granted that homebuyers already have the right to sue a builder or contractor for damages if they do not exercise reasonable care. Unfortunately, homebuyers currently do not have the right to hold a builder or contractor liable.

This bill should give homebuyers the right that everyone presumes they already have.

I anticipate strong opposition again from the BIAW and have no commitment from Chopp that he will support it.

*I’m having trouble downloading the text of the bill. I’ll link it when I can.

As I wrote in my column earlier this week and as the Seattle Times agreed today—despite having a Democratic governor and fat majorities in both houses, Democratic leadership is muting expectations for any bold initiatives this session.

Eyes are on the election in November instead of the legislative session in January, February, and March.

I’m not sure why they’re so obsessed with winning elections when they seem nervous about using the majority they win in those elections.

RSS icon Comments


Last year's original bill

The way that you the Dems are avoiding any substantial fight or progress, you'd think that they're afraid of some sort of voter backlash, a la early 1990s. I don't know why they should expect anything other than voting along party lines in this election. If anything, the Dems should stand to win undecided independents.

Posted by Gidge | January 13, 2008 4:09 PM

I like the idea in threroy...comeing from florida originaly our economy funtions on crocked contracters....but my instincts tell me to be wary

Posted by linus | January 13, 2008 4:30 PM

Of course, the next question is: Is this year a short session or a long session?

If a short session, it's hard to get much through, regardless.

Posted by Will in Seattle | January 13, 2008 4:42 PM

impeach frank chopp

Posted by kinkos | January 13, 2008 4:48 PM

It's a short session, Will, although I don't think that totally excuses things. In theory, the extra time of the long session should be eaten up by the budget, and there should be enough time in either session to get some other work done (I know that's not exactly how it works). But it's one thing to limit your agenda because it's a short session; it's another thing to run up the white flag and say "we're not going to do shit (or at least anything that requires balls) because we don't want to lose the upcoming election."

Posted by Gidge | January 13, 2008 5:14 PM

Well, they should at least hold hearings, but trying to push through a large agenda is unlikely, given it's a short session.

This is what we count on individual representatives and senators for.

Like, oh I don't know, my State Rep Frank Chopp.

All I've asked him to do is tell him to stand up for Seattle's interests personally. But most of the stuff he is working on are things that matter to us ...

Posted by Will in Seattle | January 13, 2008 5:33 PM

It's not the volume of the session, it's the shying away from anything controversial ("This isn't a year for launching new initiatives"). It's clear that they're playing it safe because of the election year--I think the Dems are flat out admitting that. Plus, in the last short session (2006), the legislature finally passed the bill prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation.

I get that the shorter session carries some limits. I'd just like to see them a little less gun shy when it comes to tackling tough issues.

Posted by Gidge | January 13, 2008 6:48 PM

I am so pissed at the democrats for always doing this shit! Stop being so fucking concerned with staying in power and pass some fucking decent legislation already! There's a reason you were elected, you know?

Posted by Fonky | January 13, 2008 8:28 PM

I find myself disagreeing with Mr. Chopp too often.

Posted by Cale | January 13, 2008 9:48 PM

Why in the hell isn't anyone challenging Frank Chopp? He's wrong on too many issues. Wallingford is as progressive as any Seattle neighborhood, there's got to be someone willing to truly represent progressive values, not the values of the BIAW.

Posted by I Got Nuthin | January 13, 2008 10:39 PM

I can see why the legislature may be shying away from any new financing initiatives, given the perilous state of the economy (I fear we have a major rainy day coming here, kids) but they can certainly pass laws. Although a law allowing contractors to be sued could very well close quite a few of the Seattle builders down. There's some real garbage going up out there.

On the same general theme, I applaud the governor for stepping up to the plate and doing something about the viaduct, and proposing we start tolling 520 in anticipation of its replacement. Those are probably our two biggest weaknesses in this state right now.

Posted by catalina vel-duray | January 14, 2008 7:08 AM

The Chopp theory as well as Gregoire is that if you tone down the Democratic agenda you pick up more seats out in the burbs or now the exurbs.

Spell check: c-o-m-p-r-o-m-i-s-e.

Good when you get half a loaf AND a position to go for the rest later.

Bad when you get 1/4 a loaf and put yourself in a position where no one knows what the hell your party stands so future progress is impossible. MAking your message: "we didn't spend as much as you thight we might" teaches everyone the Republican frame is right and abandons the chance to inform folks that the real Democratic agenda works for them.

Posted by unPC | January 14, 2008 7:14 AM

Frank Chopp has been a huge disappointment. He's stubborn, obnoxious and wrong far too often. Some of those traits have been helpful to have in a Speaker, but he has not been a friend to progressives. Time for him to move along.

Posted by 43rd | January 14, 2008 9:29 AM

Chopp has moved mountains to get the Dems back to STRONG majority status.

And this lame duck from Mercer Island thinks he is going to cram someting down Frank's throat? Silly old goat, Mr. W.

Frank is the best thing that has happened in Olympia in many years. If you want a socialist, vote socialist.

Posted by Jack on the Hill | January 14, 2008 1:04 PM

@14: A big Democrat majority is useless, as Josh has repeatedly pointed out, if they don't work on advancing the Democratic agenda. Why should we give a shit about that big majority if it's going to be functionally the same as not having it?

Posted by Greg | January 14, 2008 2:49 PM

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