On March 8, Senator Brian Weinstein (D-41, Mercer Island, Bellevue) passed his homebuyers rights bill 30-19 out of the Senate. (The bill would give homebuyers a warranty against shoddy construction.)
Weinstein believed he had his ducks in row to also pass the bill in the House. Last summer, he says, he met with powerhouse House Speaker Rep. Frank Chopp (D-43, Seattle) at Chopps de facto office, the Tullys on 45th in Wallingford. Chopp, Weinstein recalls, said the idea sounded good and handed Weinstein off to House legal staffer Barbara Baker to iron out the details. Weinstein reports that Baker was excited about the bill.
Weinstien also found a House member, Rep. Brendan Williams (D-22, Olympia), who was excited about the legislation. Rep. Williams told Weinstein that faulty housing construction was a big issue in his district. Rep. Williams went on to champion the legislation on the House side.
However, earlier this week, after the House Judiciary Committee passed the bill onto the Rules Committee, Speaker Chopp tabled the bill. As The Olympian reported yesterday, Rep. Williams is pissed and threatened to resign.
Sen. Weinstein, who I talked to this morning, is also pissed. He told me flat out he now believes Rep. Chopp had a deal worked out with the BIAW (the builders lobby) to table the bill all along.
The BIAW doesnt like the bill because they believe it will spike insurance rates for homebuilders because the bill will empower homeowners legally. Weinstein scoffs at the compliant: Lawyers can get sued. Doctors can get sued. Anybody can get sued. Homebuilders are the only people in this state that cant get sued. Arent they willing to stand by their work?
Senator Weinstein, however, reserves his harshest words for House Speaker Chopp. Heres what he just told me:
This is democracy at its worst. Here is one guy that overruled 30 Democratic Senators and the Democratic House Judiciary Committee. Whats the point of working hard on a bill? Theres no point in doing the fact finding, holding eight hours of hearings, of doing the right thing, if a dicatator can just pull the rug out from under you. I feel helpless.
Weinstein says Chopp doesnt want to alienate the BIAW so the Democrats can keep their majority
and he added derisively, not do anything with it. http://www.thestranger.com/blog/2007/04/democratic_state_senator_calls_democrati