Proposed construction defect lawsuit reforms in Nevada were criticized as “window dressing” by a representative of the building industry who told lawmakers the bill should be scrubbed.
AB401, sponsored by Assembly Speaker John Oceguera, D-Las Vegas, would set a three-year statute of limitation to bring suits for willful conduct or fraudulent concealment of construction deficiencies. It would also allow attorneys’ fees to be awarded only to the prevailing party and require they be approved by a judge.
No immediate action was taken on the bill.
John Madole, representing the Nevada Chapter of Associated General Contractors, said the bill doesn’t go far enough to address industry concerns and should be abandoned.
“It’s our position that AB401 does not meet the test of meaningful reform,” he said, comparing the bill to “rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.”
He also feared that passing the bill would sabotage efforts to get more reforms through the 2013 Legislature.
“Why don’t you just kill this bill this morning and get on with your business,” he told members of the Assembly Ways and Means Committee.
Assemblywoman Debbie Smith, D-Sparks, questioned why the industry that pushed so hard for reforms would walk away from what the bill offers.
“A lot of times it takes time to get things where you want them to be,” Smith said. “There’s no interest in making changes and have something out of this issue versus nothing?”
Oceguera took exception to Madole’s criticisms, saying he met with building industry representatives before the 2011 session to discuss their concerns.
“These are the issues you told me that you wanted to work on and we worked on,” he said.
The issue of construction defect reforms was among demands posed by Assembly Republicans in exchange for considering a Democratic effort to lift a sunset on temporary taxes that were to expire June 30.
But a Supreme Court decision in late May questioning the legality of funding sources contained in Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval’s budget proposal brought the sunset issue out from behind the cloak of political maneuverings to front and center in the budget debate.
Sandoval and legislative leaders reached a budget agreement that extends $620 million in taxes for another two years to balance the budget. The agreement came with other reforms to education and collective bargaining sought by the governor and Republican lawmakers.
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