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COLUMBUS Opponents attack predatory lending bill



Published: Wed, January 30, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



The bill was sponsored by state Rep. Charles Blasdel of East Liverpool.

By JEFF ORTEGA

VINDICATOR CORRESPONDENT

COLUMBUS -- Opponents lashed out at a bill that would place state limits on predatory and hidden charges on housing loans, saying the proposal doesn't go far enough.

"What's here is absolutely nothing new," Bill Faith, executive director of the Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio, told the Senate Finance and Financial Institutions Committee Tuesday. "This does nothing to further the protections for citizens."

The word of Faith and others apparently was enough to persuade senators.

Chairman Jim Carnes of St. Clairsville, R-20th, adjourned the committee without a vote after a marathon 61/2-hour hearing that drew wave after wave of opponents to the bill.

The bill was sponsored by state Rep. Charles Blasdel of East Liverpool, R-3rd. If enacted, it would create uniform regulations statewide for mortgage brokers and other lenders.

Opposition: Federal regulations on certain types of high-interest loans prohibit predatory charges and hidden fees, proponents of the bill say. The bill would make those regulations part of state law -- and that's why some consumer advocates are upset.

"We're part of the United States. We are already under these protections," Faith told senators. "These protections are inadequate."

Plus, Faith and others say there are no new protections and that the bill would make it more difficult for cities to also put protections in place.

Outside the committee room, Blasdel said there needs to be uniform regulations for financial institutions.

"It would be a nightmare," Blasdel said of different regulations in different cities. "It would drive up costs and limit competition."

Speaking out: Opponents of the bill, however, dominated the hearing. Charleta Tavares, a Columbus city councilwoman and Democratic gubernatorial nominee Tim Hagan's running mate, said predatory lending is devastating urban and rural communities alike.

Predatory lending, defined as lending with high interest rates, high service fees and unwarranted commissions, is impacting minorities, senior citizens and the poor, Tavares said.

"Predatory lending is the most blatant type of discrimination," said Karen Rainey, legislative director of the League of Women Voters of Ohio.

State Sen. Robert F. Hagan of Youngstown, D-33rd, another committee member, was also concerned. "It's wrong-headed legislation," he said.

Faith said consumer advocates were pleased at the delay of the committee's planned vote. "At least this bill was not being railroaded through," he said.

The House passed a version of the bill last October.




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