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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Eye On Olympia

Home builders erect a new pinata: “Rep. Williams is the new Sen. Weinstein”…

Interesting stuff from the latest newsletter from the Building Industry Association of Washington: Rep. Brendan Williams, D-Olympia, has replaced former Sen. Brian Weinstein as the building group's great Satan.

Weinstein drew the builder's ire by championing legislation that would have made it easier to sue builders for shoddy construction. The builders said the change would have been open season on them, spawning frivolous lawsuits, driving up home prices and driving them out of business by pushing their business insurance higher.

No love was lost between the two. Weinstein browbeat the builders in hearings; the builders blasted him back as a "builder-hating trial attorney." They put a photo of his home in their newsletter. They also got his bill killed. Repeatedly.

The BIAW's now unhappy with Williams for backing a bill to dramatically improve the warranties on new homes (HB 1045). The arguments are similar: the builders say it's unreasonable and would devastate an already-reeling industry.

This time, however, the builders are a more fractured presence in Olympia. A longtime ally, the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties, has apparently parted ways with the BIAW on this issue.

"MBA's actions have significantly undermined the no-warranty message BIAW has successfully lobbied in previous years," the newsletter reads. (An aside: Somewhere, Weinstein is laughing at that sentence. Amid heated industry denials, he long said that new homes -- no matter what paperwork buyers are handed -- effectively have no warranty.)

New BIAW president Kyle LaPierre, in a letter to BIAW members, said that the divide between the groups "has become the most serious issue facing BIAW." The groups must work together, he says.

"A cancer is eating this association, and soon this cancer will cripple us," he said. Critics, he said,

"...argue BIAW is too agressive, too strident. We are too politically incorrect, and we don't work hard enough to collect friends at the Capitol. They say we need to take the `fight' out of BIAW's language. To that, I say NO. When you take the fight out of BIAW, you're done. You become weak, ineffective and marginalized, like every other business organization in this state has become."

"...Our enemies know BIAW is wounded by this division, and like sharks smelling blood, they are circling," he wrote.

Short takes and breaking news from the Washington Legislature and the state capital.