The legislation is now on Gov. Ed Rendell's desk for signature. Here's hoping Corbett's concerns convince the governor it's a no-go.
If ever a piece of state legislation was written to favor one side in a legal dispute over workmanship, this patronizing piece of claptrap takes the prize.
How's this for legalese obviously written by and for building contractors: "If the claimant has rejected a reasonable offer, the claimant may not recover costs or attorneys fees incurred after the date of rejection."
Read here claimant, as you, the homeowner, filing a legal action against a contractor for inadequate or lousy workmanship. It means, quite succinctly, take it or leave it.
And how did York County's state representatives and senators -- Republican and Democrat -- vote on this anti-home owner/buyer bit of builder favoritism? Yes -- right down the line.
The legislation, which reads as if it was written by and for the Pennsylvania Builders Association -- which, surprise, surprise, supports it wholeheartedly -- reads like an invitation to anyone with an eye to protected profits to join in the building spree.
It's clearly unconstitutional. Attorney General Corbett's non-binding opinion says " the General Assembly may not limit the amount to be recovered for injuries resulting in death, or for injuries to persons or property."
And Corbett wrote that because HB 1467 "limits the amount that may be recovered for injuries to property because of a construction defect in a dwelling; it is therefore, in our opinion, unconstitutional."
It doesn't take a lawyer to get the sense that the governor's signature on HB 1467 would literally open the door for a free-for-all for disreputable builders to flood the state -- especially a high-growth area like York County -- and enjoy the obvious protection of state law this bill provides.
Building contractors' advocates claim it allows a time-limited process to work, avoiding court cases that may take years to resolve, and it would reduce building costs, with contractors able to construct more homes at a lower cost.
No doubt. But what if the construction at issue was so shoddy the homeowner wanted nothing further to do with the contractor involved?
There may be a legislative answer to the problem of homeowner vs. builder lawsuits. HB 1467, which shapes up more as a building contractor's dream and a consumer's nightmare, isn't that answer.