Thursday, January 12, 2017

CO legislative leaders propose deal to bring more affordable housing

Posted By on Thu, Jan 12, 2017 at 11:12 AM

click to enlarge Speaker of the House Crisanta Duran - COLORADO HOUSE DEMOCRATS
  • Colorado House Democrats
  • Speaker of the House Crisanta Duran
You've probably at least heard of the "construction defects bill."

Considered a top goal for the state Legislature, some form of this bill has appeared in Colorado's legislative session for years. It's almost a ritual at this point. Early in the session, representatives and senators often say that this is the year the bill will pass. But it doesn't.

Still, it would seem this year will be different.  The new speaker of the Colorado House of Representatives, Crisanta Duran, and the new Senate president, Kevin Grantham, are cosponsoring the bill this session, having arrived at a compromise.

So why is this such a big deal? Because it's thought that getting the bill passed will lead to more building of affordable, multi-unit housing like apartments, condos and townhomes.

Why? Because builders and developers say that such projects are too risky currently — they say they are too liable for problems. The construction defects bill is meant to limit their liability, and entice them to build more multi-unit projects. Here's a story I wrote about that back in 2014. And here's one from 2015.

Anyway, the flip side of this is that HOAs and homeowners say that they should be able to sue if something is wrong with their homes.

According the the House Democrats, here's the deal:

Duran Brings Bipartisan Construction Defects Deal
New Speaker Says Bill Will Drive Down Insurance Costs to Spur Condo Builders

(Jan. 11) – The new speaker of the Colorado House of Representatives, Crisanta Duran, began the 2017 legislative session this morning by announcing a bipartisan compromise on construction defects reform, a perennial sticking point in the legislature.

In her opening day speech after being formally elected by the 65-member House, Speaker Duran said that she and the new Senate president, Kevin Grantham, R-Cañon City, had agreed to be prime sponsors of a bill intended to tackle the sticky issue of insurance, one of the issues identified by stakeholders as impacting new home starts.

The bill, with the co-prime sponsorship of Assistant Minority Leader Cole Wist, R-Centennial, and Sen. Angela Williams, D-Denver, is scheduled to be formally introduced this afternoon.

“By targeting insurance rates we’re addressing the problem without reducing consumers’ right to protect the property that they spent their life’s savings to buy,” said Speaker Duran, D-Denver.

The bill will allow insurers to go to court to apportion defense costs equitably among liability insurers who are required to defend a defect claim through an expedited process. The legislation seeks to address one of the root causes making it harder to build more condos, without compromising consumer rights.

In other highlights of her opening day speech, Speaker Duran said she was involved in “promising discussions” with members of both parties in both chambers to devise a comprehensive statewide plan to upgrade Colorado’s crumbling, overburdened transportation system.

“Anyone who’s been on I-25 at rush hour, anywhere from Fort Collins to Pueblo, knows the need is real,” she said, adding that the emerging plan “will provide new resources and will benefit our entire state.”

Speaker Duran also noted discussions about education funding and a long-term solution to the state’s chronic budget problems.

She closed with an appeal for “an inclusive Colorado” where bullying of people because of their gender, race, religion, nationality, or sexual orientation is off-limits.

Speaker Duran is the first Latina speaker in Colorado history. She presides over a House where Democrats expanded their majority to 37-28, a six-seat swing, in the November 2016 elections. 

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