Builders gear up for legislative battles
Sixteen bills in the last legislative session
presented solutions to the construction
defects problem that vexes Nevada’s
All 16 went down to defeat.
Chastened by the experience, the construction
industry next year seeks to present
a united front to the Legislature a
united front in support of a single bill.
And lobbyists for the industry will be supported
by a focused public relations and
advertising campaign that seeks to convince
residents that the construction
defects issue affects them directly.
The issue is well-documented: Because
of a growing number of lawsuits seeking
damages for construction defects, insurance
premiums for builders have skyrocketed.
At Q&D Builders in Sparks, for
instance, premiums have doubled in the
past year while deductibles have risen to
$10,000 from $250,000.
Other builders have been unable to get
coverage at any price.
“The insurance companies hear
‘Nevada’ and run the other way,” Steve
Hill, chairman of the Coalition for
Fairness in Construction, told a group of
northern Nevada builders last week.
The coalition, a group that involves
builders, real estate interests, insurers and
others, has been working for more than a
year to sharpen its legislative strategy.
Greg Ferraro, the lobbyist hired by the
coalition, said the message to the legislature
will be simple: Builders want the law
changed so that they have the opportunity
to fix a construction defect before a lawsuit
is filed, and they want a clear definition of
what constitutes a construction defect.
A unified front, he said, is critical if the
industry hopes to succeed.
“We’ve been picked apart in the past by
our adversaries because we were divided,”
To support the lobbying effort, the
coalition is rolling out a big-time public
Paid advertising broke in metropolitan
newspapers in Nevada last week. The
coalition’s Web site, http://www.constructioncoalition.
com, has drawn 10,000 hits in
about six weeks.
The next step will bring the campaign
directly to construction workers, said Chris
Ferrari, the public relations consultant to
In coming weeks, construction companies
will be asked to put stuffers into pay
envelopes explaining the industry’s position.
Companies also will make petitions
available to their employees. The coalition
plans to deliver thousands of petition signatures
at the start of the legislative session,
The effort to galvanize construction
workforces is significant, coalition organizers
said, because about 10 percent of
Nevada’s paychecks come directly from the
Like the focused legislative effort, the
group’s public relations campaign will stick
to a couple of messages:
* If the construction liability issue isn’t
resolved, homes will become less affordable.
* Resolution of the issue will help
reduce crowded court dockets.
State Sen. Randolph Townsend, chairman
of the Senate Commerce Committee,
avowed his support at last week’s meeting
“There’s nothing leaving my committee
until this issue is resolved,” he said.
Hill said the coalition’s effort is likely to
be challenged strongly by the state’s trial
lawyers he predicted trial lawyers will
raise $1 million to spend on advertising
and Townsend had harsh words for those
who have brought lawsuits under the existing
“What is going on in your industry is
terrorism, and we need to bring it to a
halt,” he told the builders.
Nevada Insurance Commissioner Alice
A. Molasky-Arman this autumn appointed
a Construction Liability Insurance Task
Force to investigate the issue.
Hill, who serves chairman of the task
force, said its work has shown both the
complexity of the issue and the sharp divisions
among groups with a stake in the
Concerned that a spate of COVID-19-related lawsuits could bankrupt businesses, members of the Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce implored the state’s congressional delegation during the chamber’s annual D.C. retreat to pass a federal liability protection measure.