The Blueprint: Statute of Repose Timeframe Reformed

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ALSO: Wetland Reform Becomes Law • Development and Housing Affordability Act Now 2017 Wisconsin Act 243 • Efficiency Coming to DSPS Councils with 2017 Wisconsin Act 240 • Looking for a Speaker to Tell the Good News? • Join DSPS for Spring Session of "Ask the Code Official" • From NAHB: Timber Towers Face Key Vote


A More Reasonable Timeframe for Statute of Repose Becomes Law

 Executive Director Brad Boycks and Immediate Past President David Belman attended bill signing.

This week, Governor Walker Signed Assembly Bill 773 (AB 773) which contains a number of civil litigation reforms. 

Representative Mark Born and John Nygren, along with Senators Dave Craig and Tom Tiffany, deserve a great deal of credit for getting this comprehensive package of reforms passed before the close of the legislative session.

After completing other key priorities by the end of February, the passage of AB 773 became a top priority during the closing days of the legislative session mid-March.  During the end of this session, AB 773 appeared to be “dead” a number of times, so passage of the final version of the bill was the result of a great deal of effort by the WBA, the Wisconsin Civil Justice Council, the Wisconsin Insurance Alliance, the Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, and the National Federation of Independent Business.

This bill focuses on a number of areas, including the scope of discovery, mandatory disclosures of third party litigation financing, automatic stay of discovery, production of certain categories of electronically stored information, limits on discovery methods, reforms to class actions, changes to the statutes of limitations, interest rates on untimely payment of insurance claims, audits of unclaimed property, and--most notably for WBA members--changes to the statute of repose that result from deficiency or defect to an improvement to real property.

Under current law, the exposure period for such a claim resulting from a building or remodeling project is typically 10 years from substantial completion of the improvements. However, if the damages are sustained during years 8 through 10 from substantial completion, the time to commence an action is extended 3 additional years, making it 13 years. AB 773 amends current law to provide an exposure period of 7 years.  AB 773 also provides that if the damages are sustained in years 5 through 7, then the time for commencing an action is extended 3 additional years. Thus, the exposure period would be up to 10 years instead of 13.

Now that AB 773 has been signed into law, Wisconsin joins Connecticut as the only two states that have a 7-year statute of repose.  30 states now have longer statute or repose for construction defects which range in years from 8 to 13.

For more detailed summary of AB 773, click here.


Wetland Reform Becomes Law

After several changes during the legislative process in both the state assembly and the state senate, the legislation to reform and streamline the permitting process to build in areas that contain wetlands was signed into law last week.  Assembly Bill 547, authored by Senator Roger Roth and Representative Jim Steineke, became 2017 Wisconsin Act 183 with Governor Walker’s signature on Wednesday, March 28, 2018.

Some of the highlights of the 2017 Wisconsin Act 183 include:

  • Wetland identification and confirmations (delineations) that were provided by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) on or after January 1, 2003 will now be effective for 15 years instead of 5 years (current law).  
     
  • The 15-year validity applies even if the wetland identification or wetland confirmation expired prior to the effective date of this bill unless a more recent wetland identification or confirmation was provided by the DNR showing that a discharge to a wetland on a parcel was conducted in compliance with a wetlands permit issued prior to the bill’s effective date.
     
  •  Exempts from state permit requirements a fill of a state wetland that occurs in an urban area if the discharge does not affect more than one acre of wetland per parcel; does not affect a rare and high-quality wetland, and the development related to the fill is done in compliance with any applicable storm water management zoning ordinance or storm water discharge permit.
     
  • Exempts from state permitting requirements a fill of a state wetland that occurs outside an urban area if the discharge does not affect more than three acres of wetland per parcel; does not affect a rare and high-quality wetland; and the development related to the discharge is a structure, such as a building, driveway, or road, with an agricultural purpose.
     
  • “Artificial wetlands” will now be exempt from state permit requirements.  
     
  • “Artificial wetland” is defined in the bill to mean a landscape feature where hydrophitic vegetation may be present because of human modification to the landscape or hydrology and for which the DNR has no definitive evidence showing prior wetland or stream history that existed before August 1, 1991. This definition excludes wetlands that serve as a fish spawning area or a passage to a fish spawning area and wetlands created because of a mitigation program.
     
  • The new regulatory provisions of the bill relating to state regulated wetlands are statewide and uniform throughout Wisconsin, much like the Uniform Dwelling Code in the construction of one and two-family homes. 
     
  • DNR will have the ability to award grants to nonprofit organization to create, restore, or enhance wetlands under the in-lieu fee program on state stewardship land.  DNR will also be able to make grants to nonprofit organizations for property development activities relating to wetlands created, restored, or enhanced under a wetland mitigation grant on DNR stewardship land.

For an additional summary of 2017 Wisconsin Act 183, click here and go to the bottom of page three under the heading “Assembly Substitute Amendment 3” (ASA 3).  ASA 3 was the text of the bill that was ultimately signed into law and the summary provided in the above link is a summary of the bill that became 2017 Wisconsin Act 183. 

We believe that this package of changes will allow for a streamlined process for housing development, which will ultimately help drive down the cost of the development process and reduce the cost of housing for Wisconsin families.

A special thank you is due to members who helped review and craft this legislation, and to those of you that used the VoterVoice system to reach out to members of the Wisconsin legislature in support of this legislation. 


Development and Housing Affordability Act Now 2017 Wisconsin Act 243

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Outside of a state budget, it is rare to craft a piece of legislation that has as many housing wins as 2017 Assembly Bill 770 (AB 770).  Discussion on AB 770 began early in 2017 and continued as the legislation was changed in committee with one additional small change coming on the floor of the state senate very late in the process.

Representative Rob Brooks and his staff member Christopher Schaefer deserve a huge “thank you” for all the hard work they put into crafting, introducing, and making changes to AB 770.  While not all municipal government advocacy groups at the end supported all of the provisions of AB 770, Representative Brooks made several changes to the original bill to get more support during the process.

Another thank you goes out to Senator Duey Stroebel for taking on a leadership role on this bill after the lead author, former Senator Frank Lasee, left his position to take a role in Governor Walker’s administration.

Some highlights AB 770 are:

  • Park fees in state statutes are addressed only as an impact fee and not in multiple places in state statutes.
     
  • Changes to provide clarifications and greater flexibility for developers to use bonds in the dedication of infrastructure that is paid for by a developer and dedicated to a municipality.  These are clarifications of 2013 Wisconsin Act 280 which passed the legislature on voice votes in both houses.
     
  • Prohibits a developer’s agreement from mandating building codes that exceed the statewide uniform standards of the Uniform Dwelling Code.
     
  • Multiple changes to the impact fee state statutes, including refunding impact fees if not used after 8 years (current law is 10 years), municipal reporting on the usage of impact fees, allowing the use of a letter of credit  to pay for an impact fee if the fee is not going to be used right away, allowing an impact fee to be paid when a permit is pulled or 6 months prior to when the fee will be used, deleting the requirement of a petition to contest an impact fee needing to be filed within sixty days of the fee going into effect, and forbidding a municipality from using impact fees for operations and maintenance of public facilities.
     
  • Prohibits the use of inclusionary zoning ordinances.
     
  • The income approach can be used in the valuation of property that is acquired through eminent domain.
     
  • The regulation of storm water management systems is made more uniform. Some municipalities have stormwater stay-on requirements that far exceed the state DNR standards at a detriment to housing affordability for low and middle-income families, while failing to provide an environmental or economic benefit to the municipality that would not have been achieved by using the state DNR standard.
     
  • Asks local units of government to be more transparent with the public on fees related to housing and development that are being charged in that municipality

AB 770 as of today is now 2017 Wisconsin Act 243 and the text of the act can be found here.


Efficiency Coming to DSPS Councils with 2017 Wisconsin Act 240

The third WBA-supported bill to be signed into law on April 2nd was Senate Bill 394 (SB 394), authored by Representative John Jagler and Senator Frank Lasee.  SB 394 merges the functions of the Building Inspector Review Board and the Contractor Certification Council to the duties of the Uniform Dwelling Code Council.  This provision was initially part of Governor Walker’s state budget, but was removed as policy at the start of the budget process.

Passage of SB 394, now 2017 Wisconsin Act 240, will bring some additional efficiencies to the Department of Safety and Professional Services while maintaining the public policy objectives of both boards and transferring those duties to the Uniform Dwelling Code Council.


Looking for a Speaker to Tell the Good News?

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The summary of the four bills that recently became law are just some of the public policy changes WBA’s advocacy efforts were able to get passed into law this year. 

If you are interested in having a member of the WBA leadership team come to your local to discuss these wins for lowering the cost of housing for Wisconsin families as part of your board of directors, advocacy, or general membership meeting, please contact Brad Boycks (bboycks@wisbuild.org).


Join DSPS for Our Spring Session of "Ask the Code Official"

Commercial Building Teleconference/Webinar
Wednesday, April 18, 2018
11:00AM - 12:00PM
Register now!

Why Should You Participate?
This teleconference will be including commercial building, plumbing and dwelling unit topics. It will answer questions you may have on the building code, one and two family dwellings and/or plumbing installations.  Other general questions will be answered as time allows.  Please submit questions to our Tech Box by clicking on this link: DSPS Ask the Code Official

Please remember two things:

  • We won’t be able to respond to project specific questions. If received, we will route to the appropriate Tech Box for review and follow up.
  • Due to timeframes, not all submitted questions will necessarily be covered or answered during the teleconference.

Agenda:

  • Welcome
  • 11:00am: Commercial Building Updates
  • 11:15am: UDC Updates
  • 11:30am: Plumbing Updates
  • 11:45am: DSPS Ask the Code Official Tech Box questions
  • 11:55 am: Wrap up -Thank you for attending

From NAHB: Timber Towers Face Key Vote

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Proposals for an innovative method of wood construction that could allow 18-story wood residential buildings face their first key vote for incorporation in the 2021 edition of the International Code Council’s International Building Code.

After 18 months of intense deliberations, ICC’s Ad-Hoc Committee on Tall Wood Buildings (ICC-TWB) submitted 14 code change proposals that would add provisions for mass timber buildings exceeding the traditional height and area limits for “heavy timber” construction.

The proposals will be debated at the upcoming ICC 2018 Group A Committee Action Hearings in Columbus, Ohio April 15-23. The key proposals are on the agenda for the IBC-General Committee and expected to be heard either Monday, April 16 or Tuesday. April 17. Registration for the hearings is free.

During recent meetings to review the Group A code changes, members of NAHB’s Construction, Codes & Standards Committee agreed to support the ICC-TWB’s proposals. NAHB believes our multifamily builders may find mass timber an appealing option for mid-rise residential and mixed-use buildings.

Mass timber beams, columns, panels and other elements are fabricated under controlled conditions in a factory, reducing the need for on-site labor. Fire tests conducted last year show mass timber components have inherent fire resistance, reducing the risk from fires during construction.

Mass timber components can also make use of lumber from trees killed by the pine beetle that would otherwise be of limited use in construction.

ICC established the ad-hoc committee at the request of the American Wood Council and other stakeholders following considerable debate over several proposals during the hearings for the 2018 International Codes. The committee consists of structural engineers, architects, building and fire officials, and representatives from the wood, concrete and steel industries.

NAHB staff will attend the 2018 Group A Committee Action Hearings to testify on this and other issues affecting residential construction. Multifamily builders with an interest in mass timber – or building codes in general – are welcome to attend the hearings and testify on these items or other proposals of concern.

For information about the ICC Committee Action Hearings or mass timber construction, contact Gary Ehrlich at 800-368-5242 x8545.


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