Homeowner's Bill of Rights held up in House

Homeowner's Bill of Rights held up in House
OLYMPIA -- Homeowners say they desperately need a Homeowner's Bill of Rights to protect them against shoddy work.

But the measure is being held in the state House of Representatives by one man.

Retired Marine Scott Thalhamer is used to training in swamps, but not underneath a house - one that was built just a year ago. The standing water underneath his house is knee-deep.

Thalhamer says it's this way for dozens of homes here, but he and his neighbors can't sue the home builder because state law doesn't permit it.

The homeowners say there is a solution to all of this: a change in the law. But a new law change is being held up in the state House of Representatives by the speaker.

House Speaker Frank Chopp has the power to make or break bills; he controls which bills get voted on and which bills die.

"Hopefully we'll be able to influence the speaker and I think there's a lot of positive energy surrounding this bill. Hopefully at the end of the day, that will prevail," said Rep. Brendan Williams, D-Olympia

We wanted to find out for ourselves, but the Speaker wouldn't come out of his office for comment. His staff members say he's just too busy with the last-minute rush of the end of the session. But they did say Chopp is still giving the bill some consideration.

"He has acted interested in the bill. We've had constructive meetings. But we have a cutoff of Friday at 5 o'clock and I have no commitment from him at this point as to whether or not he's going to pass the bill," said Sen. Brian Weinstein, D-Mercer Island.

That's not encouraging news for homeowners who are pushing this bill.

"Bring it to a vote. Let people see where it falls. Just because it goes for a vote doesn't mean it'll pass or not," said homeowner Karen Veldheer.

The building industry says there are plenty of safeguards already, and this could drive up the cost of housing.

But for homeowners knee-deep in water, that argument doesn't hold water.

The bill's sponsors say the governor supports their effort and is ready to sign the bill if it's allowed to be voted on by the speaker of the House.