Housing Lawsuit Bill Stumbles

ESSB 5550 expanding contractor and designer liability for housing projects hit a major roadblock this week. House Speaker Frank Chopp (D-43, Seattle) has publicly stated that he will kill the bill for 2007. He recognized that some of the ideas in the bill may have merit, but they need to be studied more before being implemented. This would indicate that the legislature is likely to create a study committee to work on the issue after the end of the 2007 legislative session, reporting back for action in 2008. For more background on this story visit the Olympian newspaper at: http://www.theolympian.com/125/story/73859.html.

In addition to Speaker Chopp, several other of the House Democrat’s leadership team have voiced concerns about the bill. While the press has focused on the Building Industry Association of Washington, every other group involved with design and construction are opposed the bill, including the AIA/WA. Major insurers testified that they would not be able to provide liability insurance if the bill is enacted. At least on insurer said it would pull out of Washington’s market entirely if ESSB 5550 passes. While the bill did pass out of the House Judiciary Committee yesterday, it now appears to be dead for the year.


UPDATE: Recent news reports have given more details on a meeting between Speaker Chop and the primary sponsors Representative Brendan Williams (D-22, Olympia) and Senator Brian Weinstein (D-41, Mercer Island). The Seattle Times and The Olympian report that the Speaker has not changed his opposition to the bill as a result of the meetings.