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Update: According to Senator Evans' staffer, the conference committee vote is now set for 8:00 AM in Room 444 in the Capitol in Sacramento.

Updatex2:


Senator Evans Announces Final Hearing of California Foreclosure Crisis Conference Committee, Vote
Conference Committee on S.B. 900 and A.B. 278

SACRAMENTO – Senator Noreen Evans (D-Santa Rosa), co-chair of the Joint Conference Committee on the California Foreclosure Crisis, will proceed with a committee vote on the long-negotiated package to provide permanent and enforceable protections for California homeowners facing foreclosure Wednesday,  June 27, 2012 at 8 a.m. in Capitol Room 444.

Language for the bill package, including the Homeowner Bill of Rights is available for review and is outside of the Senate Judiciary Committee in Room 2187 as well as posted online on Senator Evans’ website or here. A media availability will be held Thursday, June 28, 2012 at 10 a.m., or upon adjournment of session at a location to be determined. The package, if passed, would be up for a floor vote in each house Monday, July 2, 2012.

Background:
Seeking to ensure protections for the hundreds-of thousands of Californians still in the foreclosure process, the California State Legislature's Democratic leadership convened a bipartisan conference committee to create permanent and locally enforceable actions that will protect homeowners and hold banks accountable to their California commitments.

The Legislative Conference Committee on the California Foreclosure Crisis has held numerous public hearings during the last two months to review and propose a comprehensive legislative solution, including the Homeowners Bill of Rights package, to protect homeowners in the mortgage market and help to keep credit-worthy families in their homes and revive the state's economy.

Senator Evans' webpage on the bill and the California Foreclosure Crisis.

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Original diary begins here:

It just might! California's Attorney General Kamala Harris introduced the HBoR some four months ago. Now it looks like it finally has some traction.

It's often difficult to figure out what is going on in Sacramento (beyond the usual corporate lobbying, avarice and corruption), but this article appeared on Saturday, June 23rd, in the Los Angeles Times.

California foreclosure prevention bill is likely to advance.

After six months of wrangling, California lawmakers put the finishing touches on what they hope will be compromise foreclosure-prevention legislation...

A conference committee is expected to approve SB 900 next week and send the package to the floors of both the state Assembly and Senate for final debates and votes.

Passage by the committee, which has four majority Democratic and two Republican members, is considered assured now that a key, business-friendly Democrat, Sen. Ron Calderon, has signaled his support...

"I think this is a product that represents a lot of significant compromises but, at the end of the day, is a step forward," said Paul Leonard, director of the Center for Responsible Lending in Oakland.

A few weeks ago I and others raised what turned out to be a false alarm on the bill being up for a vote in committee imminently. The alerts that were being sent around were simply wrong, albeit well-intentioned. Sorry about that! And while not wanting to be one to "cry wolf" again, this time it does seem like the real deal. This time I have direct information from a staffer in Senator Noreen Evans' office (chair of the conference committee), and while nothing is definite regarding timing of the votes, the language of the bill is set.

Beyond the squiggle for a discussion of what the final bill looks like and the prospects for passage.

According to the grapevine, it's still a pretty strong bill. Thanks to the Center for Responsible Lending and the Courage Campaign I have a summary of the main provisions of SB 900.

  • ... ensure that borrowers who submit a completed loan modification application will get a "yes or no" decision from their servicer, with an explanation, before they commence the foreclosure process.

    In other words, no more left hand offering a loan modification while the right hand forecloses.

  • Requires servicers to review reliable evidence to substantiate the borrowers' default and their right to foreclose. In addition, all recorded foreclosure documents must be properly reviewed and verified for accuracy.

    In other words, no more robosigning and no more foreclosures without substantiation that the foreclosing entity actually owns the mortgage.

  • Requires servicers to give borrowers ... an accountable point of contact that will provide clear, accurate information ... and coordinate all documents associated with loan modifications.

    In other words, at least in theory, no more "losing" documents and/or shuffling someone from one department to another.

  • ...provides that borrowers may bring legal actions to courts, but only for material violations of the law. Prior to a foreclosure sale, servicers will be given the option to cure a violation in lieu of paying damages. Borrowers may file actions only after a notice of default is recorded. Judges can provide only injunctive relief, requiring a servicer to stop the foreclosure sale and correct any previous violation. For actions brought after a foreclosure sale has occurred, judges may award actual damages, plus attorney fees. A court may award the greater treble actual damages or $50,000 if it finds that the servicer's violation was intentional, reckless or resulted from willful misconduct.

    In other words, if the bank tries to foreclose on you illegally or there is some defect in the procedure, you can take the bank to court and a judge can temporarily halt the foreclosure proceedings, but the bank has to be given the opportunity to correct the illegality or defect. If you've already wrongly had your house taken from you before the problem is detected the judge can't, apparently, give you your house back: you'll get damages and attorney's fees and possibly triple damages if the judge finds the bank negligent.

Disclaimer: I'm not working from the text of the actual bill, just the summary I mentioned. I did just receive an image-only copy of the bill from a staffer in Senator Noreen Evans' office, but it's mostly legalistic gobblydegook. My interpretations of the summary's language are just that: my interpretations.

Does It Have Teeth?




That said, the provisions look pretty good to me. If the legislation passes the banks will do everything in their power to undermine it, of course. But these new rules give homeowners in California facing foreclosure a hell of a lot more rights than they have now -- it's hard not to improve from nil.

The fact that for the first time a homeowner will be able to go before a judge and say "this isn't legal!" and have a judge stay a foreclosure proceeding should be a huge victory; that isn't possible now in almost all cases. (Unlike some states, California currently does not have judicial review of foreclosures. As I read it, this is a compromise -- in some states all foreclosure proceedings must go before a judge, but with this legislation, only contested proceedings would need judicial review.)

Will It Really Pass?




Rumor has it that a vote is scheduled for Wednesday in the joint Senate/Assembly Committee where the bill now resides. Possibly as early as 8:00 AM. With Calderon's vote (see above) it is pretty much guaranteed to be voted favorably out of the committee onto the Senate and Assembly floors.

There, the bill is not subject to being watered down by amendments. The rules under which it was sent to the conference committee specified that if and when it arrived on the floors of the Senate and Assembly a straight up-or-down vote will be all there is. This is confirmed by Senator Evans' staffer and seems to be great news -- the banks won't be able to slime the waters by having their Republican and ConseraDem lackeys propose nice-sounding but weakening amendments, and the vote should be held relatively quickly.  According to the Evans' staffer the goal is to have the vote before the Legislature recesses for its July break, and it could come as early as Monday, July 2nd.

Which doesn't mean it's guaranteed to pass!

The Courage Campaign has put together what they consider a list of key Senators and Assemblypersons who are swing votes for passage containing contact information..

If any of these people are your California representatives, you should certainly call them and let them know that you want SB 900 / AB 278, the Homeowners' Bill of Rights, to be passed.

Sen. Calderon Sen. Correa Sen. Ed Hernandez Sen. McCleod
Sen. Padilla Sen. Rubio Sen. Vargas Sen. Wright
Asm. Eng Asm. Feuer Asm. Fletcher Asm. Fuentes
Asm. Galgiani Asm. Gatto Asm. Roger Hernandez Asm. Huber
Asm. Lara Asm. Artesia Asm. Perea Asm. Torres
In fact, if you anywhere live in California, it can't possibly hurt and will probably help to call your legislators and tell them you want the bill passed.

Find contact information for your California representatives here


Regardless of whether this bill passes, the work of stopping the banks from illegally and unjustly foreclosing and evicting will continue. The banks are not going to stop profiting from the housing disaster they themselves created. Nor will they ever admit they owe anything to the American taxpayers who bailed them out.

All we can do is keep fighting them.


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Originally posted to jpmassar on Tue Jun 26, 2012 at 02:17 PM PDT.

Also republished by Occupy Wall Street, California politics, SFKossacks, Progressive Policy Zone, Dailykos Kossacks For Action, ClassWarfare Newsletter: WallStreet VS Working Class Global Occupy movement, and Progressive Hippie.

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