Maryland builders launched a full-scale legislative assault yesterday against a bill intended to protect buyers of new homes from unscrupulous builders.
Builders, led by Dennis McCoy, a lobbyist and former delegate, lined up in solid opposition to the bill sponsored by Baltimore County Republican A. Wade Kach and eight other delegates.
"This is bad for the industry and bad for consumers," McCoy testified before the House Economic Matters Committee.
Kach's bill would create a statewide, self-supporting registration system to cover builders, who currently are licensed only in Montgomery and Prince George's counties. It would give consumers a central place to lodge complaints about builders and would give an agency the power to suspend or revoke a builder's registration.
"This would for the first time provide consumers with clout to get something done," said Assistant Attorney General John H. Nethercut.
Another Kach proposal, which would require the disclosure of environmental problems near new homes, has passed the House of Delegates and is awaiting a hearing before a Senate committee.
Nethercut said Kach's registration bill, which is also supported by the Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation, is a scaled-back version of proposals hashed out in meetings since last year.
Kach, Nethercut, and Elizabeth H. Trimble, principal counsel for the licensing and regulation agency, said the builders participated in the meetings until January, when they failed to show up at the final session, and withheld reaction to a draft bill.
Jeb Bittner, president of the Maryland Division of Pulte Home Corp., said the bill would force builders to spend money and time trying to head off complaints instead of doing their work.
Kach and Nethercut presented three aggrieved home buyers, among them Beth Turcell. She said she contracted for a $300,000 home on 3 acres in western Howard County but had nothing but frustration with her builder, who eventually walked off the job, leaving her with "150 unfinished tasks" and unpaid subcontractors threatening to file mechanic's liens.
McCoy said Kach's bill amounts to builder licensing. Although he praised Montgomery County's 20-year-old builder licensing system, he said he would oppose adopting it statewide because at that level "it doesn't work, is not necessary and is not desirable in other jurisdictions."
Pub Date: 3/03/99