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Another opportunity for the Legislature to right the HOA wrongs

This commentary is a follow-up to my March 21 commentary (“The Legislature Fails to Acknowledge HOA Wrongs”), in which I wrote about the stalled status of HOA reform bill H2724.
In that commentary I asked, “Will the Legislature act to protect the people, the homeowners by fixing some of the ills of society brought about by the wrongful protection of HOAs?”
Well, the Legislature in the single act of the House Rules Chairman and Speaker Pro Tempore, Bob Robson, failed to hear H2724 in the Rules Committee, where it died. The elected representatives were denied their voice to pass or fail this substantive HOA reform bill.
However, all has not been lost. With Rep. Eddie Farnsworth’s strike-everything bill, S1162, the Legislature has an opportunity to right those HOA wrongs.
The bill is set for a Senate floor vote. Will it face the same obstruction as occurred in 2006 with Rep. Farnsworth’s bill to provide an independent tribunal to hear HOA complaints? In that year, Rep Robson’s stalling was overcome, and so was the Senate’s stalling by its Rules Committee chair. The bill was put into law. 
Will SB1162 be put into law this year?
A look at the bill: Like the earlier bill (H2724), this bill removes “ex-post-facto” amendments which are allowed by the courts, yet prohibited under the U.S. and state constitutions.  Homeowner-rights advocates have been seeking fair laws, and the equal application of the laws to homeowners living in HOAs.
I receive many phone calls and e-mails from homeowners across the country telling me about their HOA issues. After I explain that they, for the most part, are powerless in all practicalities, they reply with, “this is not fair,” “this is wrong” or “how can this happen in America?” 
I answer with: Read your CC&Rs, that private government constitution of yours. Where does it say the HOA must be fair, just, or apply the same safeguards as required of public governments, or be subject to the same restraints on government abuse as applied to public governments? 
The U.S. Constitution states things such as, “establish justice, insure domestic tranquility,” “promote the general welfare” and “secure the blessings of liberty.” The HOA “constitution” states something to the effect of maintaining property values, a singly focused concern with money. 
A second look at the bill: It subjects both parties and attorneys separately for conduct that essentially violates the rules of court for filing lawsuits. Rule 11(a) requires that a legal action, now also applying to adjudications where some really outlandish conduct has occurred, be brought after reasonable investigation by the attorney as to the merits of the action and its basis in law, and was not brought to drive up costs, delay or harass the other party.
The bill allows attorney fees if such conduct is established by the administrative law judge or court. And that goes for any appeal of the decision, as we are witnessing now with three such appeals by the HOA attorneys that are raising constitutionality issues.
In my earlier Capitol Times commentary, I also stated that, “the Legislature has failed to act to protect homeowners against homeowner association boards.” The Legislature now has a second chance to redeem itself and to re-assert the principles of the founding fathers in support of liberty, individual rights and freedom from abuse. 
The Legislature has a second chance to renounce the principles of the New America of authoritarian, private HOA governments, based solidly in opposition to these fundamental principles, and based solely on money principles.
George Staropoli is president of Citizens for Constitutional Local Government, Inc.

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