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Pennsylvania

Pa. senator works to amend liens law

Joe Napsha
| Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Complaints from area homeowners facing liens filed by subcontractors not paid by prime contractors for repairs from the March 2011 tornado have prompted state Sen. Kim Ward, R-Hempfield, to introduce a bill to protect consumers.

Ward said on Tuesday she is seeking co-sponsor to a bill she plans to introduce to amend the Mechanics Lien Law to eliminate mechanics' lien rights for subcontractors who perform work on residential property, if the property owner has paid the prime contractor in full.

"Once homeowners pay a contractor for work done to their home, they shouldn't be forced to pay again because a shady contractor didn't pay their own bills to suppliers," Ward said. "We're not going to put the onus on the homeowners to make the subcontractors whole."

The bill is being written and reviewed to make certain it adheres to state law, Ward said. The Senate does not return to session until Monday, and Ward said she plans to introduce the bill soon.

The legislator said she wants to move quickly on the bill because homeowners are getting ripped off and the possibility of another storm could damage more homes this spring. There is no companion bill in the Senate, Ward said.

A bill to amend the Mechanics Lien Law was introduced in the House in May 2011 and amended in November, but is hung up in the House, Ward said. It is expected to come up for a vote next month. There is no similar piece of legislation in the Senate, Ward said.

The proposed consumer protection legislation, however, would be too late for 17 Westmoreland County residents who paid a Texas roofing contractor but were hit with mechanics' liens by a building supplier. The contractor they hired, Prime Roofing Systems of Waxahachie, is accused of failing to pay $64,000 in building materials supplied by ABC Supply Co. Inc. of Wisconsin, which has an office in New Castle.

In addition to sponsoring the legislation, Ward has written to state Attorney General Linda Kelly requesting that her office investigate the business dealings of Prime Roofing, along with ABC Supply Co.

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