See details below about 2015 NC General Assembly bills:
- Senate budget bill would repeal State Fair Housing Act
- Bill to legalize 80 to 125% loans still stalled
- Bill to roll back debt collection protections also stalled
- Ratified bill reduces protections against harassing calls
- Wage garnishment put into study committee bill
- Bills to reduce protections against mortgage broker abuses have not passed
Because of your quick action, bills to invite high-cost lenders into our state and eliminate protections against debt collection abuses are stalled.
But the Senate budget bill proposes to repeal our State Fair Housing Act and eliminate the NC Human Relations Commission.
And other lending related bills have passed or are still under consideration. Even bills that did not meet the crossover deadline remain a potential threat until the General Assembly adjourns.
Repeal State Fair Housing Act
Senate budget bill would repeal State Fair Housing Act
A provision in the Senate budget bill, which passed by a wide margin in mid-June, would repeal the State Fair Housing Act and eliminate the NC Human Relations Commission, the body charged with investigating and enforcing this state law.
According to Policy Watch Investigates: Senate budget also took aim at anti-discrimination:
The State Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination when it comes to buying, selling and renting homes, as well as building and retrofitting homes to accommodate those with disabilities and when it comes to government decisions about land use designations and affordable housing policies. The N.C. Human Relations Commission is authorized to investigate complaints of housing discrimination, and seek resolution through settlements or the courts.
Federal fair housing rules would still apply, but North Carolina residents would have to go through a federal Housing and Urban Development office, a process that fair housing advocates say tends to be lengthy and could delay resolutions for citizens.
Since the House budget bill does not include this provision to repeal the State Fair Housing Act, differences between the Senate and House budget bills, including this issue, will be sent to a conference committee to reconcile.
For more information about this issue, read:
- Policy Watch Investigates: Senate budget also took aim at anti-discrimination, June 25, 2015, by Sarah Ovaska-Few
- NC Senate Passes Bill to Repeal State Fair Housing Act & Eliminate NC Human Relations Commission, June 19, 2015 by Jeff Dillman, Fair Housing Project, a project of Legal Aid of North Carolina
High-Cost Lending - SB 681
Bill to legalize 80 to 125% loans still stalled
Thanks to all of you who took fast and aggressive action to oppose Senate Bill 681, this bill to invite high-cost lenders back into our state is currently stalled. SB 681 would double and in some cases triple the interest rate on consumer installment loans. Though SB 681 did not pass either chamber before the crossover deadline, industry lobbyists are still trying to keep it alive by convincing key groups to drop their opposition.
Current law caps annual percentage rates at around 40% APR (30% interest and a small origination fee). This bill allows APRs as high as 80% to 125%, which will trap families in debt.
This bill is opposed by a number of military, veterans, religious and community organizations. Thanks to all of you who have taken a public stand against SB 681. We will be monitoring this bill until the General Assembly adjourns.
Debt Buyer Abuses - SB 511/HB 541
Bill to roll back protections against debt buyer abuses still stalled
Under a North Carolina law passed in 2009, it is illegal for companies that buy consumer debts to sue the customer if they cannot prove they are suing the right person for the right amount. Senate Bill 511 and House Bill 541, which attempt to roll back these protections against debt buyer abuses, are still stalled.
SB 511 received a favorable report from the Senate Judiciary I Committee, but failed to pass the Senate before the crossover deadline. A fee was added to its companion bill, HB 541, so it is not required to meet the crossover deadline. It has been referred to the House Finance Committee, but has not been scheduled for a vote.
Before 2009, debt buyers flooded the courts with boiler plate lawsuits, often suing the wrong person or for the wrong amount, and often making only half-hearted attempts to notify consumers they were being sued. When consumers didn't come to court, the debt buyer got a default judgment against them, which prevented the consumer from getting any other credit until the debt buyer was paid.
Strong opposition to rolling back our 2009 protections against debt buyer abuses has stalled these bills first in the Senate and later in the House Finance Committee. We will be monitoring this House bill until the General Assembly adjourns.
Debt Collection Calls – SB 678 Ratified
Ratified bill reduces protections against harassing calls
The Federal Fair Debt Collections Act allows debt collectors to contact family, friends and employers in certain situations. This new law reduces protections against harassing phone calls.
Wage Garnishment - SB 632 & HB 716
Wage garnishment put into study committee bill
North Carolina already allows wage garnishment for certain judgments like child support. Senate Bill 632 would have drastically expanded wage garnishment for other judgments, putting struggling families at severe financial risk. This bill would have reversed 145 years of state policy, allowing creditors like credit card companies to garnish up to 25% of a debtor's disposable income each paycheck.
Though SB 632 did not meet the crossover deadline, House Bill 716 would require a Legislative Research Commission to study how to implement wage garnishment in our state. As a study bill, it is not required to meet crossover.
In addition to pushing families into poverty and bankruptcy, this bill puts employers in the business of debt collection, wasting their time and money garnishing wages. It also reduces the incentive of high-cost lenders to carefully underwrite their loans, since they will be standing first in line if the borrower defaults.
Mortgage Broker Regulation HB 104 & HB 105
Bills to reduce protections against mortgage broker abuses have not passed
House Bill 104 eliminates the requirement that mortgage brokers provide audited financial statements to their regulator, the NC Commissioner of Banks. House Bill 105 significantly reduces the required amount for surety bonds held by mortgage brokers. These bills, discussed by an earlier study committee, were assigned to the House Banking Committee.
Some members of this committee have opposed the proposal to eliminate the requirement of audited financial statements, and this bill has not come up for a vote. The bill to reduce surety bond amounts received a favorable vote in the committee, but for technical reasons, the objections to the other bill have held up the surety bond bill as well.
Neither bill made it on the list of bills that met crossover. We will be watching carefully to be sure that bad provisions in these bills are not incorporated into other bills.