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NACBA’s Washington Update, October 27th

Go into the weekend informed about significant and relevant activity on the part of Congress, regulatory agencies and interest groups/think tanks. Check out what’s happening in Washington, DC.

ON THE HILL On October 24th during the late hours, a slim majority of Republicans in the Senate voted to pass Senate Joint Resolution 47, which repeals a rule issued by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that made it easier for Americans to sue their banks and credit card companies. Vice President Mike Pence issued the deciding vote to repeal CFPB’s arbitration rule and block consumers from suing financial giants like Equifax and Wells Fargo. Republican Senators John Kennedy (R-LA) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) voted against the measure.

The Senate passed S. 1107, The Bankruptcy Judgeship Act of 2017, on October 24th introduced by U.S. Senator Chris Coons (D-DE), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. The bill is expected to be signed into law by President Trump in the next 10 days. Coons’ bill extends Delaware’s five temporary bankruptcy judgeships for five years. The bill also adds two temporary bankruptcy judgeships for Delaware. The bill also provides extensions for 14 temporary judgeships and creates four new bankruptcy judgeships total across the country.

On October 20th, U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) joined Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) and seven other senators to call on the U.S. Department of Education (ED) to use its discretion to help college students and student loan borrowers displaced or otherwise unable to continue their education in the wake of Hurricanes Irma and Maria. Their joint letter called upon the ED to exercise discretion to enroll borrowers impacted by Hurricane Maria “in interest-free administrative forbearance for a minimum period of six months, or until Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands are no longer considered to be in a disaster zone”.

House Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) is praising Education Secretary Betsy DeVos for refusing to cooperate with the CFPB and says he hopes it sets an example for other federal agencies. In the letter issued on October 16th, Chairman Hensarling made it clear he would like other agencies to follow Education’s lead. He argues that the Education Department’s action to “curb the CFPB’s overreach are most welcome, and hopefully will serve as an example to other federal agencies to re-evaluate their relationship with the CFPB.”

IN THE AGENCIES On October 17th, 18 states led by Maryland and Pennsylvania sued the Department of Education for illegally delaying and refusing to enforce the gainful employment rule. Their complaint is based on the Department’s numerous violations of the Administrative Procedure Act. The gainful employment rule implements the Higher Education Act requirement that career education programs prepare students for gainful employment in a recognized occupation. Finalized in 2014 and in effect since 2015, the gainful employment regulation requires schools to give prospective students key information about costs and outcomes of career education programs at for-profit, public, and nonprofit colleges, ends federal funding for programs that consistently leave students with debts they cannot repay, and allows colleges to appeal if they believe program graduates earn more than federal data indicate.

Prior to the repeal of CFPB’s arbitration rule being brought to a vote, in a rare move, the Treasury Department sided with Wall Street attacking the rule issued by CFPB. The rule “fails to account for significant costs of class action litigation and benefits of arbitration in a meaningful way,” the Treasury Department said in an 18-page report. And it “would upend a century of federal policy favoring freedom of contract to provide for low-cost dispute resolution.”

FROM THE INTEREST GROUPS The American Legion and National Consumer Law Center published an op-ed in Politico’s Morning Consult on the taxation of death and disability on student loan discharges. In it they argue, when a borrower dies or becomes permanently disabled before paying off student loans, the loans can be discharged, relieving the disabled borrower or surviving family members of the burden of paying off a loan they often cannot afford. However, The Internal Revenue Service may treat the amount of the forgiven loan as taxable income. Although some will be able to exempt this income because they are insolvent, not all will qualify. As a result, a family that was relieved to have a student loan forgiven may then end up struggling to pay a big tax bill — all while dealing with the death of a child.

OTHER On October 14th PBS News Hour has a featured episode titled, “More older Americans than ever are struggling with student debt”. Watch it online now.

Feedback should be directed to Krista.DAmelio@NACBA.com

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Stay Informed With NACBA’s Latest Washington Update

NACBA’s Krista D’Amelio keeps you updated and informed about significant and relevant activity on the part of Congress, regulatory agencies and interest groups/think tanks.  Take a look at what’s happening in DC in the latest Washington Update.

ON THE HILL On October 11th Rep. John Garamendi (D-CA) and Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) introduced the bipartisan Student Loan Refinancing and Recalculating Act, H.R. 4001, to address the ballooning student loan debt crisis in America that cripples over 40 million Americans and their families. This legislation would allow students to refinance their student loan interest rates, lower future student loan interest rates, eliminate origination fees on student loans, delay student loan interest rate accrual for low-income and middle-class borrowers while they are pursuing their education, and allow for borrowers in medical or dental residencies to defer payments until the completion of their program.

Chief Deputy Whip Patrick McHenry (R-NC), the Vice Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee introduced H.R. 4028, the Promoting Responsible Oversight of Transactions and Examinations of Credit Technology Act of 2017, or the PROTECT Act, on October 12th. Following the data breach at Equifax that exposed the personal data of over 140 million Americans, this bill would require the federal government to create uniform cybersecurity standards for credit bureaus and submit them to onsite examinations. The bill would also create a national framework for credit freezes so that victims of identity theft, active military personnel, people over 65 years of age, and children are protected. Finally, the bill would stop the credit bureaus from using Americans’ Social Security Numbers as a basis for identification by 2020.

IN THE AGENCIES The U.S. Department of Education recently released data on the national student loan FY 2014 cohort default rate. The rate increased slightly from 11.3 percent to 11.5 percent for students who entered repayment between fiscal years 2013 and 2014. During the tracking period for the FY 2014 borrower cohort (Oct. 1, 2013 to Sept. 30, 2016), more than five million borrowers entered repayment, and 580,671 of them—or 11.5 percent—defaulted on their loans. Those borrowers attended 6,173 postsecondary institutions across the nation.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) finalized a rule that is aimed at stopping payday debt traps by requiring lenders to determine upfront whether people can afford to repay their loans on October 5th. These strong protections cover loans that require consumers to repay all or most of the debt at once, including payday loans, auto title loans, deposit advance products, and longer-term loans with balloon payments. The Bureau found that many people who take out these loans end up repeatedly paying expensive charges to roll over or refinance the same debt. The rule also curtails lenders’ repeated attempts to debit payments from a borrower’s bank account, a practice that racks up fees and can lead to account closure.

FROM THE INTEREST GROUPS On September 27, 2017 following the U.S. Trustee Program’s (USTP) recently issued guidelines for natural disasters, NACBA and NCLC wrote a joint letter urging for approval of a waiver of credit counseling requirements in the areas of Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico affected by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria. NACBA and NCLC received a response on October 4th from the USTP. Specifically, the response letter calls to light the action of acting US Trustee Guy Gebhardt issuing a temporary waiver of credit counseling and debtor education requirements for the areas in Puerto Rico and US Virgin islands affected by Hurricanes Irma and Maria.

NCLC released findings on October 11th that reveals discretionary pricing and racial disparities in auto add-on products sold by car dealers. Their report:  Auto Add-Ons Add Up: How Dealer Discretion Drives Excessive, Arbitrary, and Discriminatory Pricing, is an analysis of a national data set of three million add-on products sold from September 2009 through June 2015. Key findings include: add-ons lead to unreasonably high and inconsistent pricing, and Hispanics pay higher prices than non-Hispanic customers for the same product.

Feedback should be directed to Krista.DAmelio@NACBA.com

NACBA’s Latest Washington Update

 

Read the latest update from Washington, designed to keep NACBA members informed about significant and relevant activity on the part of Congress, regulatory agencies and interest groups/think tanks.

ON THE HILL  A vote in Senate on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s arbitration regulation is imminent. Republican leaders are considering whether to bring to the Senate floor a bill that would kill the arbitration regulation finalized by the CFPB this summer using a special legislative tool that allows them to avoid a Democratic filibuster if they act within 60 legislative days of implementation. Senators Johnny Isakson (R-GA) and David Perdue (R-GA) are cosponsors of the legislation in the Senate. The debate comes three weeks after a public outcry compelled the Atlanta-based Equifax to quickly drop so-called forced arbitration language from the terms of service of the free credit monitoring service it was offering its customers after its massive data breach. The House of Representatives already passed a “resolution of disapproval” to revoke the CFPB’s arbitration rule. A total of 23 Senate Republicans filed a resolution at the end of July to rescind the CFPB rule. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH), ranking member of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, has promised to fight to keep the rule.

IN THE AGENCIES On September 14th, Clifford White, Director of the Executive Office of the U.S. Trustees addressed the National Association of Bankruptcy Trustees at the 35th Annual Convention. He discussed topics that included chapter 7 trustees, guidance on natural disasters, marijuana assets, and stale debt claims—to name a few. Amongst things he noted for natural disaster guidelines were: the US Trustee Program (USTP) will not take enforcement action against debtors who are unable to file or produce documents required by the Code as a result of a natural disaster, if they otherwise are eligible for relief; USTP will not move to dismiss under the “means test” if income loss, increased expenses, or other consequences of a natural disaster constitute “special circumstances” sufficient to rebut the presumption of abuse; and even if conditions do not justify a United States Trustee granted statutory waiver of the credit counseling requirements for a district, USTP will exercise prosecutorial discretion in considering whether to take action to dismiss the case of a debtor who, as a result of a natural disaster, experiences difficulty in obtaining a credit counseling certificate or whose filing was delayed beyond the 180-day period following the debtor’s receipt of credit counseling.

The Federal Trade Commission launched a web page highlighting the work of the agency’s new Military Task Force, which is aimed at identifying the needs of military consumers and developing initiatives to empower servicemembers, veterans, and their families, including through law enforcement actions. The Military Task Force, comprised of a cross-section of agency representatives, is part of the FTC’s ongoing and collaborative effort to provide resources for the military community. Servicemembers, like all consumers, are potential targets for fraudsters. Certain scams are more likely to target the military community because those families may relocate frequently and because many service members are living on their own and earning a paycheck for the first time.

FROM THE INTEREST GROUPS Following the U.S. Trustee Program’s recently issued guidelines for natural disasters mentioned above, NACBA and NCLC wrote a joint letter urging for stronger relief for bankruptcy debtors in Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico proportionate to the serious problems those hurricane victims are now facing. Specifically, NACBA and NCLC request USTP approve a waiver of credit counseling requirements in the areas of Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico affected by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria.

OTHER A report was recently published that analyzed issues of bankruptcy and race in America. Interested parties can access the report online.

 

Feedback should be directed to Krista.DAmelio@NACBA.com

Stay Informed With NACBA’s Latest Washington Update

Read the latest update from Washington, designed to keep NACBA members informed about significant and relevant activity on the part of Congress, regulatory agencies and interest groups/think tanks.

On The Hill The Senate unanimously approved legislation on September 8th by Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Senator Al Franken (D-MN) clarifying Congress’ intent to allow family farmers to more easily reorganize their finances when they fall on hard times. S. 1237 Family Farmer Bankruptcy Clarification Act of 2017 reiterates Congress’ earlier action to enable bankrupt family farmers reorganizing their debts to treat capital gains taxes owed to a governmental unit, arising from the sale of farm assets during a bankruptcy, as general unsecured claims.  It also removes the Internal Revenue Service’s veto power over a bankruptcy reorganization plan’s confirmation, giving the family farmer a chance to reorganize successfully.

On September 6th Senator Coons’ (D-DE) bill S. 1107, Bankruptcy Judgeship Act of 2017, passed the Senate. The bill extends temporary bankruptcy judgeships and calls for a five-year extension for 14 temporary bankruptcy judgeships and will create four new bankruptcy judgeships. With this bill, Delaware will retain its one permanent bankruptcy judge, will receive extensions of its five temporary bankruptcy judges and will receive an additional two temporary bankruptcy judgeships for five years to handle the heavy caseload for the district, which is one of the busiest in the country.

Representative Sean Duffy (R-WI) is pushing to have federal flood insurance reformed to avoid bankruptcy and to allow private insurance to run the program as opposed to the federal government. He wants to set flood insurance up so that the private market can come in and offer premiums and coverage at better prices than the federal government. Duffy agrees that helping Texas is the right thing to do, but warned continued subsidies to flood areas is not fiscally sound, and encouraged Congress to think about future disasters on the horizon.

In The Agencies On September 1st the Education Department has notified the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) that it’s severing operating agreements with it, saying the regulatory body has “undermined” the mission to serve students and borrowers — particularly in its handling of student loan servicing issues. A copy of the letter notifying the CFPB of the decision was released Friday by Representative Virginia Foxx (R-NC), chairwoman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee. It’s signed by A. Wayne Johnson, chief operating officer of the Education Department’s Office of Federal Student Aid, and Kathleen Smith, acting assistant secretary in the Office of Postsecondary Education, and dated Thursday. It is claimed that the CFPB is using its jurisdiction in areas that Congress never intended.

OTHER Following the recent Equifax breach, U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH), ranking member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, is calling on Equifax to immediately remove forced arbitration from all services offered to customers following a data breach that exposed 143 million Americans to identify theft. Equifax is currently touting free credit monitoring and identify protection services for victims of the breach through its TrustedID product. However, Equifax included forced arbitration clauses in the terms of use agreement customers must agree to when signing up for the services – effectively forcing victims of the breach to sign away their rights to seek access to court.

Feedback should be directed to Krista.DAmelio@NACBA.com

Bankruptcy News Briefs 4/12

From the Web: Household Debt Balances and Borrower Demographics Shift Since 2008

Debtor Established Valid Defense of Laches Against Creditor’s Motion to Dismiss under § 707(a)f

Credit Card Debt Surpasses $1 Trillion

CFPB Office of Consumer Response Provides Updated Complaint Trends in Annual Report

NEW REPORT SHOWS VICTIMS OF AGGRESSIVE TACTICS FROM MEDICAL DEBT COLLECTORS

CFPB hearing proves consumer finances are at risk again

Consumer Complaints About Medical Debt Collectors, and How the CFPB Can Help

Consumer accuses Healthcare Receivables Group of improper debt collection practices

Betsy DeVos undoes Obama’s student loan protections

Rising Student Loan Debt Seen as Further Hurting Homeownership Rates

Argument preview: Court to consider application of Fair Debt Collection Practices Act to debt buyers

Keep On Truckin’: Priority Rules Still Rule in Structured Dismissals

Bankruptcy judge shortage could ‘cripple’ Delaware

Consumers Slowly Getting Savvier About Finances

Foreclosures, Delinquencies Drop Year-Over-Yeau

Court Finds No Pro-Bank Bias From Judge in Foreclosure Case

A Glimpse Into the Consumer Bankruptcy Journal

Professor Jason Killborn

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Everyone is talking about the newly appointed Supreme Court Justice, Neil Gorsuch, but what does his appointment mean for bankruptcy cases? Read Professor Jason Killborn’s article, “What to Expect From Justice- To-Be Gorsuch on Bankruptcy,” where he discusses three bankruptcy cases and gives insight on what bankruptcy attorneys and their clients may expect from Supreme Court Justice Gorsuch in his tenure.

NACBA25 is Less Than A  Month Away! Are You Registered?

Join us in celebrating 25 years of NACBA on May 4th-7th in Orlando, Florida at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort. Visit NACBA25 for all the details on speakers, sessions, hotel reservations, registration and more! Register today!

Receive a $25 Amazon Gift Card!

In honor of NACBA’s 25th Anniversary, we want to reward you with a $25 Amazon Gift Card! Introduce a new member to NACBA and we will send you $25 Amazon Gift Card. Not only will YOU receive a $25 Amazon Gift Card but the NEW MEMBER will also receive a $25 Amazon Gift Card! Check out the Requirements and start referring today!

 It’s a New Month! Renew Your Membership to Enter This Awesome Giveaway!

Renew your membership in April and be entered to win a copy of NCLC Consumer Bankruptcy Law and Practice Volume I & II, Eleventh Edition (Value $130). Two winners, will be selected at random each month

 

Bankruptcy New Briefs 7/27

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Midweek Headlines…

Equifax, Experian, TransUnion to Axe Some Debt Information from Consumer Credit Reports

Midland Credit Management, Inc. Settles Multidistrict TCPA Class Action

NCLC and 50 Groups File Petition with FCC to Stop Millions of Robocalls to Cell Phones

Unauthorized Transfers of Receivership Property: Void, Voidable or Ok?

Chapter 13 Plans are Just About Written in Stone

MARK YOUR CALENDARS

NACBA MEMBER ONLY FALL WORKSHOP- OCTOBER 7th-10th

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Join us to set sail for NACBA’s Summit at Sea (#NACBASEA) setting sail from October 7th-10th with a a Pre-Cruise event on October 6th. Early Bird Rate Ends, September 2nd! Check out theSchedule and Register Today!

ANNUAL CONVENTION

2017 NACBA’s 25th Annual Convention – Silver Anniversary
Thursday, May 4 – Sunday, May 7, 2017
Orlando, Florida

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