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Lawmakers debate foreclosure bills

April 16, 2012|By Marc Lifsher
  • California Atty. Gen. Kamala D. Harris testified at the state Capitol for a package of foreclosure relief bills. Above, Harris at a news conference in February.
California Atty. Gen. Kamala D. Harris testified at the state Capitol for… (Ben Margot / Associated…)

SACRAMENTO -- A much-anticipated first vote on a package of bills aimed at helping homeowners stave off foreclosures didn't happen as scheduled Monday.

Action on a pair of bills sponsored by California Atty. Gen. Kamala D. Harris was postponed after Chairman Mike Eng (D-Monterey Park) of the Assembly Banking and Finance Committee asked that debate be postponed for a week.

According to his office, the bills needed to be amended so a compromise could be reached during negotiations with consumer groups and mortgage bankers.

"We want to make sure that we present the best bill possible," said Eng. We want to get all the kinks worked out and hear from all the constituents who want to speak."

But backers of the bills speculated that Democratic leaders couldn't muster the needed seven votes from their party members, especially those of business-friendly moderates.

By not casting votes, the moderates could keep their heads down and not have to answer to their constituents, said Paul Leonard, the executive director of the Center for Responsible Lending.

Harris told the committee she's looking forward "to a robust hearing on these bills" next week. Her proposals, she said, are aimed at making sure that homeowners are not put on a so-called dual-track process that allows banks to continue a foreclosure process at the same time they are negotiating possible loan modifications.

Harris spent much of the day lobbying Democrats on the bill.

The two bills are supported by dozens of consumer, fair-lending and economic justice organizations. They are solidly opposed by mortgage bankers, bankers, credit unions and the financial industry.

Related:

The future of foreclosures

An ugly foreclosure story, starring Bank of America

California attorney general seeks more mortgage protections

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