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House Democrats rebut criticism on mortgage mediation bill

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Several House Democrats have responded to criticism from a Post-Dispatch editorial earlier this week explaining they were never contacted by the Post and that each agreed with the premise of the bill, but felt it was flawed.

The editorial criticized the six Democrats who joined the Republican majority voting for House Bill 446, which would remove the ability of cities and counties to regulate real estate loans. Currently, St. Louis City and St. Louis County have a mandatory mediation period before a foreclosure can take place.

“I was never contacted to explain my position,” said Rep. Keith English, D-Florissant. “Sitting on the committee that heard it, I found out that St. Louis County was being sued and taxpayers were spending hundreds of thousands of dollars defending the lawsuit that attempts to supersede state law.”

Rep. Penny Hubbard, D-St. Louis City, was disappointed that she was not asked about her position before the editorial was ran.

“I am disappointed in the Post because I feel like they didn’t properly inform their readers,” she said. “Many Democratic House members and Democratic groups supported this measure. I just wish they would have tried to understand the bill or at least why I voted for it before writing that.”

Proponents of the bill think there would be a different mortgage process in St. Louis than other parts of the state.

“I question the statutory authority of a county to regulate banking law and that is why I supported the bill,” said House Minority Leader Jacob Hummel, D-St. Louis County.

Rep. Michele Kratky, D-St. Louis, said she thought it would be better for the banking industry and Missouri residents if chartered banks were government by state law rather than 114 counties.

Others raised concerns about St. Louis County’s ability to offer competitive home mortgage rates if they had special regulations to comply with that adjoining counties did not.

“I support statewide mediation, but we have to regulate banking laws as a state not as 114 different counties,” said Rep. Vicki Englund, D-St. Louis County. “While St. Louis County might require mediation other charter counties would be able to remove important consumer protections. We should pass this statewide so we avoid a race to the bottom like many want us to join Kansas in.”

At the beginning of session, several of the legislators who voted for HB 446 also co-sponsored House Bill 800, which would have established a mandatory statewide mediation process before a home an be foreclosed.

“The foreclosure situation throughout the country is a travesty. Instead of a piecemeal approach, we need to apply consistent statewide legislation that will not penalize future borrowers,” Rep. Mary Nichols, D-St. Louis County, said.

To contact Scott Faughn, email, or via Twitter at @scottfaughn.