Monday we have a follow-up in our on-going coverage of dozens of local families left with unfinished homes after their builders, Solano Development and Sierra Sage, had their licenses suspended.
A State Senate subcommittee heard testimony from industry representatives and affected homeowners this morning to try and come up with some new legislation that would prevent that from happening again.
The Senate Committee on Commerce and Labor was shocked when the homeowners testified last week about two contractors who took their money and left them with unfinished homes.
So the senators met this morning in an attempt to draft new legislation that would better protect consumers.
After listening to testimony from a panel of homeowners, state contractor board members and representatives from the home building industry, the senators said they want to create legislation that would allow the state contractor's board to use a heavier hand.
Senator Maggie Carlton\(D) Clark County]
"I want to see them tough," said Sen. Maggie Carlton (D - Clark County). "I want to see them take people into a room and just make them cry and make them beg not to get out of the room and really hold them accountable."
The group suggested a variety of options that would help hold contractor's accountable.
One option would force contractors to put all monies in an independently controlled account that the state oversees that they couldn't touch. Another option would require that the money paid to get a contractor's license reflect a percentage of the total value of all of the contractor's projects. A third option has the contractor's board performing detailed financial background checks when each contractor's license comes up for its yearly renewal.
[CG at 0'58":Locator (Double Line)\John Douglas\Victim of Solano Development]
"I'm wondering why we're trying to recreate the wheel - if we don't read about history we're destined to repeat it," said Solano home buyer John Douglas. " Why don't we look at some of the laws in other states and work with the committee to get those implemented."
"Nevada is in a world of its own sometimes. We don't march to anyone's drummer, we tend to hire our own drummer," noted Carlton.
During today's hearing, we learned more about the owners of the two companies which took people's money and have yet to complete their houses.
RWR owns Solano Development - the company building at Bella Terra in Arrowcreek in South Reno and Canterbury Place in northwest Reno. RWR also owns Sierra Sage, the company that says it will eventually complete those homes.
The owner of RWR is Bill Rheinschild - someone you may recognize from the Reno Air Races. Another one of his company's, Unlimited Air Racing Inc. owns two planes that Bill races every year - the planes' names are Bad Attitude and Risky Business.
Reinschild was asked to testify at a June 3rd hearing before the contractor's board which will decide the fate of his companies but he told the board he would be on vacation.
"In his letter he specified that he would be on vacation from May 11th to June 25th and that he had non-refundable tickets, airline tickets, so I sent him a note and asked him for a copy of the ticket and he didn't respond," said Margi Grein of the Nevada State Contractors Board.
"That request was denied."
So the June 3rd hearing for both Solano Development and Sierra Sage will go on as scheduled without the company president.
RWR is currently building six new home projects in Southern California and, if either Solano or Sierra Sage's license is revoked at the hearing, RWR could be out of the building business for good.
"We have reciprocity in our disciplinary actions with other states as well so what's grounds for discipline in this state is grounds for dismissal in say California where they hold other licenses and as soon as the action is final, we plan on notifying California," Grein said.
The senators will meet with the full commerce and labor committee tomorrow morning and make a recommendation as to what legislation should be passed. We will have that information for you tomorrow night.
I also want to mention that the contractor's board is currently preparing a criminal case that they will present to the Washoe County Distict Attorney's Office. They hope to make a case here for fraud.