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Ohio foreclosure bill minus cramdown passes House panel
COLUMBUS, Ohio (5/14/09)--After removing a "cramdown" provision that would have allowed judges to modify mortgage terms, the Ohio House Housing and Urban Revitalization Committee Tuesday voted out of committee a bill that would set a six-month moratorium on foreclosures in the state. The bill also would reduce foreclosure filing fees to $750 from $1,500. Credit unions and commercial banks with less than $2.5 billion in assets are exempt from foreclosure filing fees and the moratorium stipulated in the measure, said John Kozlowski, general counsel at the Ohio Credit Union League. "We didn't believe the moratorium was necessary," Kozlowski told News Now. "Credit unions work with members consistently on foreclosure issues. We've worked diligently with the General Assembly and with members of the committee." He noted the bill's sponsor, Rep. Mike Foley (D-Cleveland), "understands the role that credit unions play in the community." Foley told The Columbus Dispatch Tuesday that credit unions and small banks "are bending over backwards to work with borrowers--unlike the big guys, who could care less." "We are very appreciative of members of the General Assembly who recognize the role credit unions play in the community [in helping members] under current economic conditions," Kozlowski said. The filing fees will be paid to the Ohio Department of Commerce, which houses the state-chartered credit unions' regulator, the Division of Financial Institutions. The fees will go to provide money and programs for foreclosure prevention, education and counseling, Kozlowski said. "Credit unions have been involved around the state with foreclosures and HUD-authorized agencies pertaining to foreclosure issues," he said. The bill still would require the borrower to pay half their monthly mortgage payment during the moratorium. It also made provisions for notification to homeowners about the moratorium. And all mortgage lenders, including credit unions, will be required to conduct background checks. "The bill will allow credit unions to continue to operate within the community and to continue to work in close contact with members who may be under distress," Kozlowski told News Now. "Credit unions' aim is to help them stay in their homes. This is a priority for credit unions. We do NOT want to foreclose. We want to keep them in their houses," he emphasized. "The bill provides them opportunities to assist." The bill was to go to the House Rules Committee Wednesday and then to the House floor for a vote. After it moves out of the House, it will be taken up in the Senate.


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