This Washington

No Reprieve for the Unemployed. Protections Against Foreclosure Gutted in Olympia.

By Josh Feit February 10, 2010

It was cut off week in Olympia this week—yesterday was the last chance for bills to make it out of committee. Those lucky bills now have until February 16th (next Tuesday) to come to a vote on the House or Senate floor. (Teo will have a status check on  all the bills we've reported on later this week.)

But here's an update on one of the most germane policy bills being considered this session—a bill that would have prevented banks from foreclosing on people who had good history of making their house payments, but were suddenly unemployed thanks to the Great Recession.

It's still alive. But in a "neutered" form, according to do-gooder advocates.

Advocates for the bill, like the Washington Low Income Housing Alliance, were pushing to give unemployed people a one-year reprieve, while—under pressure from community banks who feared for their own financial well being—reluctant legislators suggested scaling back the foreclosure moratorium to three to six months.

However, the banks—the Washington banking PAC has donated $91,000 to local races since the last legislative election cycle in 2008—ended up killing the idea of a reprieve altogether.

As it stands now, the bill,  has been turned into a study.

I have a call in to Seattle Rep. Jamie Pedersen (D-43), Chair of the House Judiciary Committee— where the bill was downgraded to a study.

It's hard to resist pointing out the irony that unemployment has spiked—10 percent on average—thanks to the financial meltdown on Wall Street in September 2008 which was caused largely by the banking industry.
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