Unreal. It seems that Rep. Gene Whisnant (R-Sunriver) is the guy standing in the way of meaningful reform on foreclosures.
As the O's Elliott Njus reports, Whisnant wants to water down a bill that passed through the Senate with broad bipartisan support.
Changes proposed by Republican leaders to Senate Bill 1552 would do away with the requirement that banks meet with borrowers in mediation if the borrower requests it.
The amendment would make mediation voluntary, and it would ease some legal hurdles for foreclosing. It would allocate money for the mediation services, as well as counseling and other assistance for homeowners.
The Bend Source tells us why Whisnant is opposed to these common-sense reforms:
The Sunriver Republican, in his role as co-chairman of the House General Government and Consumer Protection Committee, killed four of the bills last week by refusing to schedule them for a hearing. ...
Asked why he’s not supporting the foreclosure prevention bills, Whisnant parrots the usual tired Republican rhetoric about the evils of big government and regulation. “We have enough regulations now,” he said, referring to temporary rules recently enacted by Attorney General John Kroger.
But the rules Kroger issued, while laudable, aren’t nearly enough. For one thing, they’ll expire in 180 days. For another, they’re aimed only at preventing blatant deception by lenders; they don’t make banks come to the table to try to work out solutions with borrowers.
As the O's Njus notes, Whisnant does have one idea that he's pushing (which is probably why he's not killing the bills outright, and instead proposing amendments). Whisnant wants to retroactively legalize a practice in which the companies that hold home loans register changes to the ownership of those loans in a private database - instead of with county property recording offices.
It would also retroactively validate the Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems Inc., a company the mortgage industry uses to avoid recording requirements each time a securitized loan changed hands. Some courts in Oregon have said foreclosures involving MERS were improper and violate state law while others have upheld the system.
Frankly, that's outrageous. You should be able to find out who owns your home loan - and the place to find that out is the county recorder of deeds. The ad hoc privatization of that system is flat out wrong.
And no, "R-Sunriver" isn't a typo. That's for real. I love vacationing at Sunriver as much as the next guy, but it's hardly the real world -- so it's no surprise that a legislator from Sunriver would be so wildly out of touch with what's actually happening out here. (Or even just down the road in Bend.)
It's time to move forward on foreclosure reform.