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March 15, 2011 (512) 463-0300

BILL WOULD PROVIDE PROTECTION FROM MORTGAGE ABUSE

Senator John Carona of Dallas
Sen. John Carona of Dallas presented a bill to address mortgage servicer abuses before the Business and Commerce Committee.

(AUSTIN) — The Senate Business and Commerce Committee took up a bill Tuesday that seeks to increase oversight over mortgage servicers. Mortgage servicers act as a go-between between the lender and lendee, collecting payments and managing accounts for banks and other lenders. Committee Chair Senator John Carona said that abuses against customers from these servicers has been on the rise. "In the wake of the 2008 recession, reports of mortgage servicer companies mishandling accounts and using inappropriate business practices have substantially increased," he said. Carona listed some of the abuses he has heard of: loan modifications that actually increase monthly payments, failure to credit customers for payments made, and failure to recognize existing insurance policies.

Senator Carlos Uresti of San Antonio
San Antonio Sen. Carlos Uresti successfully passed a bill to encourage the growth of the space tourism industry in Texas.

His bill, SB 17, would require mortgage servicers to register with the state Department of Savings and Mortgage Lending. The agency would not proactively oversee mortgage servicers, but would investigate consumer complaints. Under the bill, the agency would also be empowered to impose penalties on servicers, including forcing servicers found to engage in abusive practices to pay restitution to customers. The bill remains before the committee.

Last Friday was the 60th day of the 82nd Session, marking the end of the constitutional prohibition on considering non-emergency legislation. Tuesday, the Senate began passing bills not designated an emergency by the Governor. The Senate approved a bill by San Antonio Senator Carlos Uresti, which aims to bring space tourism to Texas. SB 115 would require space tourist operations to inform customers of the dangers of space travel. It would require customers to sign a waiver accepting all liability of the risks associated with space travel, except in cases of gross negligence or willful malice.

The Senate also passed SB 321, by Katy Senator Glenn Hegar, which would permit employees to lawfully keep a firearm and ammunition locked and concealed in their personal vehicle while it is parked at work. Employers could still prohibit firearms in the office or in company vehicles, and would not be liable for any damages resulting from any firearms in cars in the parking lot. Both bills now head to the House for approval.

The Senate will reconvene Wednesday, March 16 at 11 a.m


Session video and all other webcast recordings can be accessed from the Senate website's Audio/Video Archive.

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