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Construction defects bill getting little support in Nevada Legislature

CARSON CITY — Republicans on Thursday blasted an amended construction defects bill whose Democratic sponsor admitted will bring little help to the economically devastated construction industry.

“You are correct, not everyone is happy,” said Assembly Minority Leader Pat Hickey, R-Las Vegas, after listening to Democrat Richard “Skip” Daly of Sparks discuss Assembly Bill 367.

Hickey and legislative Republicans have made reforms to the construction defects law one of their top goals. But the Democrat-dominated Assembly Ways and Means Committee did not even hear a construction defects reform bill Thursday from Assemblyman Wes Duncan, R-Las Vegas.

What Republicans want are changes to the 1995 law that virtually guarantees that lawyers representing homeowners in construction defect lawsuits are paid their fees, even if they lose the case.

That law was passed as a way to help homeowners, some with limited funds, gain lawyers to sue contractors.

The GOP also wants to change the definition of construction defects so that lawsuits can be brought only when there is a physical risk because of the defect.

While Republicans received no Democrat support on their construction defects, prevailing wage and Public Employees Retirement System reform bills this session, they also blocked the Democrats from imposing higher taxes.

Daly said the amended version of his bill only would remove some subcontractors from lawsuits. Hickey, as a painting company owner, could benefit.

“It’s a bite of the apple,” added Daly, noting that extended meetings with Duncan and others did not lead to a compromise.

“No one believes this will go far enough. The sides are not going to come together.”

Hickey said he would not support the amended bill.

“I don’t think we went forward in good faith,” he said. “I don’t think this bill helps the public. We ended up with nothing.”

Contractors and business groups complained about the amended bill.

“The only ones winning under the current system are the trial lawyers,” said Tray Abney, a lobbyist for the Reno-Sparks Chamber of Commerce.

He said real reforms would put more construction workers back on the job.

Contact Capital Bureau Chief Ed Vogel at evogel@reviewjournal.com or 775-687-3901.

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