House sustains governor’s veto of foreclosure bill

Posted April 02, 2012, at 11:28 a.m.
Last modified April 02, 2012, at 2:06 p.m.

AUGUSTA, Maine — The Maine House of Representatives on Monday sustained last week’s veto by the governor of a bill that sought to protect homeowners during foreclosure proceedings.

The House vote of 69-69 failed to get the more than two-thirds majority necessary to override a veto.

Since Gov. Paul LePage has taken office, the Republican-controlled Legislature has sustained all 16 of his vetoes.

The bill, LD 145, would have prevented large mortgage companies from foreclosing on homes on which they might not have legal ownership. It further would have required banks to present the original mortgage note or proof of ownership before court proceedings.

LePage said he agreed with the intent of the bill, but would have liked to see increased penalties for bad lenders, not measures he said draw out the process. He also said the requirement on banks was burdensome.

“This law would not do anything to shorten the foreclosure process in the state of Maine,” the governor wrote in his veto letter to the Legislature. “Instead, it would add a new burden on our lenders to produce original copies of documents or swear under penalty of perjury why they are not able to.

“This will simply create more paperwork in the foreclosure process with little benefit for Maine people,” he added.

Only the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Bobbi Beavers, D-South Berwick, spoke prior to Monday’s vote.

“This veto hurts too many Mainers,” she said. “LD 145 was thoroughly vetted by the Judiciary Committee over 15 months. It will not delay [foreclosure] proceedings for one second; it will speed it up.”

After the vote, Beavers had stronger words.

“Telling the truth should not be a burden,” she said. “Republican lawmakers have put unscrupulous big banks ahead of struggling middle-class families. This bill simply protects struggling homeowners from the widely reported abuses of the national mortgage companies.”

Chris Pinkham, president of the Maine Bankers Association, supported the governor’s veto and said it would have negatively impacted Mainers.

“Extended foreclosures also add administrative costs to lenders and those costs are calculated into future mortgage loan interest rates,” he said. “Maine consumers who are paying their mortgages, attempting to refinance a mortgage or trying to sell their home do not benefit from LD 145. Future foreclosure legislation must be reviewed carefully to consider how it will impact citizens, not just the ones who have breached their mortgage loan contract and are facing foreclosure.”

Monday’s House vote, which came down mostly along party lines, demonstrated the power sometimes carried by gubernatorial vetoes.

When LD 145 was passed in the House and Senate earlier this session, both votes received well above the two-thirds majority needed to override a veto.

When the veto vote came up on Monday in the House, though, several changed their initial vote.

Follow BDN report Eric Russell on Twitter @BDNPolitics

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