2017 Colorado Legislative Session Promises Focus on Construction Defects

The 2017 legislative session opens today in Colorado! For those of you who are political junkies, following the recent elections, here is what you need to know about the makeup of the Colorado House and Senate:

There are 65 seats in the Colorado House of Representatives. In 2016, the Democrats controlled the House by a margin of 3 seats. In 2017, the Democrats will control the House by a more definitive margin of 9 seats. This year the Speaker of the House is Crisanta Duran (D), the House Majority Leader is KC Becker (D) and the House Minority Leader is Patrick Neville (R).

Unlike the House of Representatives, following the elections in November, the margin in the Senate remained the same as in 2016. There are 35 seats in the Colorado Senate and the Republicans control the Senate by a slim 1 seat margin. The President of the Senate is Kevin Grantham (R), the Senate Majority Leader is Chris Holbert (R) and the Senate Minority Leader is Lucia Guzman (D).

Conventional wisdom is that when the two chambers are controlled by different parties, to get anything accomplished legislators must reach across the aisle. Only time will tell whether conventional wisdom holds up during the 2017 legislative session!

Consistent with the past 4 years, the issue of construction defects promises to be front and center during the 2017 legislative session. Currently, 8 to 10 bills are expected to be introduced addressing construction defects and the construction of affordable housing. While during the 2015 legislative session developers testified in the Senate that they couldn't guarantee that construction defect reform would result in the construction of affordable housing, it will be interesting to see whether the Metro Mayors Caucus and builders attempt to tie the construction of affordable housing to construction defect reform.

Since this will be the 5th year in a row legislators will consider construction defect legislation or have conversations with stakeholders on the issue, it is the perfect time for legislators to look beneath the surface of the issue to determine what is just spin and whether bills really provide immunity for builders.

It is possible to craft fundamentally fair and balanced construction defect legislation that promotes the construction of condominiums and doesn't destroy the right of homeowners to hold builders responsible for their defective construction. Legislators must remember that if builders aren't held responsible for their defects, those defects become a repair responsibility of HOAs and the homeowners living in them are responsible for paying to repair the defects through an increase in their dues or through special assessments. That's an unconscionable result that neither the Democrats or Republicans should want to own.

Stay tuned to this blog for timely updates on construction defect and other HOA legislation as it is introduced and proceeds through the legislative process. As always, we will provide you with an overview of these bills and the practical implications to HOAs and the homeowners who live in them.