Las Vegas Sun

October 23, 2017

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OTHER VOICES - 2013 Legislature:

Sen. Roberson: We have the chance to reform Nevada’s laws on home defects

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Sen. Michael Roberson

Roberson's top three issues

1. Tax reform: Is it needed and what should it look like? If it is needed, how do we broaden the tax base in a revenue-neutral manner that is fair and that promotes an attractive business climate?

2. Education reform and funding: Identify reform measures to improve educational outcomes and do our best to increase funding in targeted areas, such as English-Language Learning, within the constraints of available revenue.

3. Homeowner Relief: Implement policies to help struggling homeowners and accelerate a turnaround in the housing market. I believe revisions to AB284 and construction defects reform should be part of the equation.

Other views

The Sun's opinion page provides a wide range of opinion about the start of the 2013 Legislature.

From the Sun:

The Sun's editorial Break the status quo.

Brian Greenspun's "Where I Stand" column.

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Elected officials

Gov. Brian Sandoval

Speaker Marilyn Kirkpatrick

Assembly Minority Leader Pat Hickey

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Political scientist

David Damore

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Political journalists

Elizabeth Crum

Anjeanette Damon

Ray Hagar

Jon Ralston

David McGrath Schwartz

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Have your own opinion?

Write a letter to the editor.

As the Nevada Legislature convenes in Carson City for the 77th session, it is easy to highlight the differences we have. There are always differences of opinion and varying perspectives as to how we solve some pretty significant challenges.

We will have differences this time too, but with brand new leadership from both parties in the Assembly and the state Senate, we have an opportunity to bring a fresh approach and a new working relationship to Carson City. In addition to the new leadership, we are fortunate to have a governor ready to lead with the ability and desire to accomplish great things.

Fortunately, we also have an important, bipartisan issue to bring us together: construction defects reform, commonly known as Chapter 40.

Nevada stands alone in its poorly worded construction defects law. Not even California has language that results in lengthy delays, clogs courts, incentivizes litigation instead of early resolution and ultimately kills jobs.

Four years ago, former state Sen. Terry Care, D-Las Vegas, advocated important improvements to this flawed law. Care’s bill passed the Senate 19-1 with strong bipartisan support but, unfortunately, was not given a vote in the Assembly.

In the wake of another round of indictments surrounding the embarrassing homeowners association scandal that took advantage of this flawed law, we can’t afford to ignore the fact that this scandal is really about Chapter 40 abuse. I am hopeful that we can bring back that kind of bipartisan call for honest reform.

In fact, this is the perfect opportunity for both parties to put Nevada homeowners, job-seekers and small businesses ahead of partisan politics. It gives us a chance to kick off this legislative session the right way, with meaningful reforms that focus on protecting homeowners, encouraging common-sense solutions over long and bitter legal battles, and getting Nevadans back to work.

It also can set the tone for a respectful dialogue that can carry over to other issues.

Nevadans may not pay as much attention to a debate about construction defects reform as we do to other issues, but the truth is Nevada has been singled out nationally for our unorthodox and flawed law. Further, we’ve had to watch the HOA scandal unfold, not just on our local news but on the national news as well.

To date, 28 people involved in the scandal have pled guilty and four are dead. Eleven new indictments were delivered two weeks ago. The community embarrassment is not likely to end anytime soon, but together we can fix the one-of-a-kind law that allowed it to happen.

Nevadans have every right to expect their homes to be properly built and they should have every right to expect a responsible builder to repair any legitimate problem in a timely fashion. Of course, there must be a remedy for those who cannot find common ground, but our system is set up simply to provide a windfall to those who abuse it.

Nevadans are good people. Republicans and Democrats may disagree on important policy issues but I think we can all agree that we need a construction defects law that encourages everyone to do the right thing. That means builders step up and fix problems — promptly and without cutting corners. It means homebuyers focus on real problems and resist the promises of easy money made by a handful of unscrupulous lawyers.

I am eager to begin a new legislative session in a way that allows us to put the pressing needs of Nevada families and businesses first and that promotes a new era of respectful debate toward generating quality solutions that aren’t held up by partisan politics. Let’s get to work.

Sen. Michael Roberson, R-Henderson, is the state Senate minority leader.

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