Consumer Protection, Or Not - Malloy Veto Draws Industry Praise

The Northeastern Retail Lumber Association (NRLA) and Lumber Dealers Association of Connecticut (LDAC) are applauding Governor Dannel Malloy’s decision to veto Senate Bill 821, which would have affected consumer warranties for windows, roofing, and siding. The legislation was strongly opposed by LDAC since its introduction in February. Despite that opposition, the bill was passed unanimously on the consent calendar by the Senate, after a revising amendment was approved, on May 17.  The House passed it 80-70, as amended, on the last day of the regular session, June 7.  An earlier version was passed unanimously by both the General Law committee and the Appropriations Committee.

In a veto message on the bill, Malloy explained “This bill, while intended to add additional layers of consumer protections to the warranty process, would instead harm consumers due to its detrimental impact to the marketplace.”  The Governor described the bill as “simply unworkable,” adding that “the detrimental impact of this bill would be very real to Connecticut consumers: businesses could decide to not offer their products in our state, or to tailor their warranties in Connecticut by adding in extra fees…”

The association recruited other organizations to help fight aggressively against the bill – unsuccessfully - in the final days of the legislative session.  The full court press at the Governor’s door then began.  LDAC and industry partners “quickly mobilized to urge Gov. Malloy to veto this legislation,” the organization pointed out in a press release. “After a meeting with the Governor’s staff and more than 40 industry letters, the Governor decided to veto S.B. 821.”

Described as “a huge victory for the industry,” the legislation, according to opposing organizations,  would have been “overly burdensome for manufacturers of windows, roofing, and siding – leading to potentially devastating outcomes for independent building material dealers across Connecticut.”

The Window & Door Manufacturers Association (WDMA) is among the organizations praising the veto.

"WDMA commends Gov. Malloy for vetoing this unprecedented and problematically-vague legislation," said Michael O'Brien, WDMA President and CEO.  "The bill would have changed existing law without any justification or public hearing, harmed manufacturers, dealers and consumers and created legal uncertainty and needless litigation."

A sweeping mandate for these manufacturers to cover all labor and replacement costs associated with warranty claims would have led to higher prices, they explain, along with weakened consumer protections, and fewer products available to consumers. The legislation would have also required manufacturers to address warranty claims within 30 days’ receipt of a claim – which industry officials say would have been “an unreasonable timeframe” to comply with.

The Northeastern Retail Lumber Association (NRLA) was established in New York in 1894 and today is an 1,150 member association representing independent lumber and building material suppliers and associated businesses in New York, New Jersey, and the six New England states. The Window & Door Manufacturers Association is the premier trade association representing the leading manufacturers of residential and commercial window, door and skylight products for the domestic and export markets.

A year ago, the state legislature voted to override three vetos by Malloy, the only three since he was elected Governor. Three more bills passed by the legislature have been vetoed thus far this year.