NWCUA Representatives Speak On Mortgage and Foreclosure Issues During Oregon Legislative Days

The Oregon Legislature met last week for three interim legislative days, during which time the Northwest Credit Union Association (NWCUA) was busy meeting with legislators on a variety of issues. These quarterly legislative days allow members of the legislature to look forward to the 2012 legislative session so that they can prepare for what will be a short, busy month of February. There is one more set of legislative days in mid-January scheduled to take place before the February session. At that point, committees will vote to introduce bills for the February session, agendas for February will be reviewed, and work around the budget will continue in earnest.

During the legislative days, Hal Scoggins, attorney with Faleigh Wada Witt, testified on behalf of the NWCUA in a hearing on foreclosure issues. The House Interim Committee on General Government and Consumer Protection held a hearing with “invited only” testimony from several lenders and consumer advocate groups.

“Credit unions engage in foreclosure prevention at every step of the loan process,” Scoggins testified. “Many credit unions provide financial counseling and educational tools for members in almost every financial condition. This includes financial education before the member obtains a loan, as well as other general education offered to members generally. In particular, credit unions attempt to work with borrowers in distress to help understand the factors contributing to the financial distress, and whether the borrower can do anything to change his or her situation, and whether accommodations from the credit union can increase the borrower’s long-term prospects for retaining the home. When the situation warrants it, credit unions will often modify loans or forbear from foreclosure. Credit unions tailor modifications to the specific circumstances of the borrowers. Some government-sponsored programs such as HAMP take a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to modifications. The flexibility that credit unions bring to the process, outside of the HAMP program, makes modifications both more likely and more successful. Credit unions may offer modifications that include temporary or permanent interest rate reductions, temporary or permanent payment reductions, extensions of the loan term, temporary suspension of payments, and in some circumstances, principal write-downs. Where modifications are not possible, credit unions work with willing borrowers to create an ‘exit strategy’ that minimizes the pain and disruption brought by loss of a home. This may include a deed in lieu of foreclosure or short sale. There is simply no substitute for personal discussions with borrowers to assess the full situation and determine whether any remedy is achievable, and if so, what the best remedy for the situation is. Credit unions bring this personalized approach to the distressed loan arena.”

Pam Leavitt was invited to speak on behalf of the NWCUA to a group of legislators on mortgage issues during the legislative days, saying:

  • As a result of the ongoing economic and mortgage crisis, Congress has enacted legislation that has created a significant burden on the financial services marketplace.
  • The well-intentioned legislation has had significant unintended consequences that confuse and financially harm the very consumers they intended to protect.
  • The regulatory pendulum has swung so far that financial institutions are faced with eliminating services or charging for them to offset the cost and increased regulatory burden of providing them.
  • Many of the new regulations are intended to address abuses in the financial marketplace, or prevent unethical financial practices that harm consumers. For example, the new rules on that are being developed on a consumer’s ability to repay mortgage loans, and the debit interchange provisions in the Dodd-Frank Act were advocated to correct problems that some may have engaged in.

NWCUA Co-Hosts Annual Cooperative Luncheon
The NWCUA, along with some of the other major cooperative associations in Oregon, including Agricultural Cooperative Council of Oregon, Oregon Rural Electric Cooperative Association and the Oregon Telecommunications Association, hosted its eighth-annual cooperative luncheon for members and legislators. More than 50 participants gathered in Salem to celebrate the cooperative movement, including more than 20 Oregon legislators. Each group gave some background on its organization and collectively read the seven cooperative principles. The meal is provided by local food cooperatives around the state.

November Revenue Forecast
Oregon’s November revenue forecast was released by the Office of Economic Analysis on Nov. 17. For the 2011-13 budget years, the general fund and lottery revenues are down $107 million. This is in addition to the $198 million decrease in revenue from the August forecast, for a total of a $305 million decrease since the end of the 2011 legislation session. The $460 million ending balance held by the legislature can cover the lower-than-expected revenues, preventing cuts to other agencies for now. There was speculation from many parties that the decrease in the November forecast would be substantially higher, but Oregon is still only a quarter of the way through the biennium. The next forecast will be released in February 2012.

Oregon Political Update
Elizabeth Steiner Hayward, a family physician at Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU), has announced she is seeking appointment to the Senate District 17 seat being vacated by Suzanne Bonamici. Bonamici is leaving her seat to run in the Jan. 31, 2012, special election for Oregon’s 1st Congressional District after winning the Democratic primary. Steiner Hayward is president of the Oregon Academy of Family Physicians and director of the Breast Health Education Program at OHSU’s Knight Cancer Institute. Rep. Chris Harker, D-Beaverton, is also seeking appointment to Bonamici’s seat. Bonamici said she will resign soon so someone can be appointed in time for the February 2012 legislative session. If Harker wins the appointment, his seat will then have to be filled in the House, which is evenly split.

Knute Buehler, a Republican surgeon from Bend, has begun his campaign for Oregon Secretary of State. Current Secretary of State, Democrat Kate Brown, is running for re-election. Knute has already raised $200,000, while Brown has raised $56,000.

 

Questions or Concerns? Contact Matt Halvorson, Anthem Editor: mhalvorson@nwcua.org.

Posted in Advocacy News, Business Solutions, NWCUA.