Bill to ease college borrowing becomes law without LePage’s signature

Posted April 16, 2013, at 5:43 p.m.
Sen. Emily Cain
Sen. Emily Cain

AUGUSTA, Maine — An emergency bill designed to make collegians more aware of the ramifications of their student loan debt while having their loans guaranteed by the state became law Tuesday without Gov. Paul LePage’s signature.

LePage, who signed nine other bills into law on Tuesday, let the 10-day deadline for the bill to become law without his signature pass. The measure garnered strong bipartisan support in the Legislature.

Orono Democratic Sen. Emily Cain’s bill, LD 351, An Act to Authorize the Provision of Insurance on Student Loans, would allow the Finance Authority of Maine to provide loan insurance on private student loans. It allows FAME to partner with Maine credit unions and banks and requires borrowers to undertake financial education about the debt they are assuming.

“If people are going to borrow, this will ensure that they do it in the smartest way possible,” Cain said Tuesday afternoon. “Instead of relying on big, out-of-state firms, Maine’s credit unions and banks will now be able to offer the quality student loan insurance option that our students need. When you can accomplish something like this, it’s a good day.”

The bill passed 142-1 in the House of Representatives and unanimously in the Senate. It had a bipartisan list of co-sponsors, including House Minority Leader Rep. Kenneth Fredette, R-Newport. The Legislature’s Office of Fiscal Program and Review estimated that the bill would result in no cost to the state but could potentially expose the Finance Authority of Maine to risk of loan defaults.

FAME, which has administered and financed higher education programs since 1990, already offers loan insurance on commercial loans.

Because Cain submitted the bill with an emergency preamble, it becomes law immediately. Bills that aren’t passed as emergency measures take effect 90 days after the legislative session adjourns.

LePage signed nine other bills into law on Tuesday. All sailed through the Legislature with broad bipartisan support. They are:

- LD 176: An Act to Clarify the Maine Uniform Securities Act.

- LD 285: An Act to Electronically Issue Permits for Burning.

- LD 304: An Act to Amend the Representation on the Telecommunications Relay Services Advisory Council.

- LD 324: An Act to Make Supplemental Allocations from the Highway Fund and Other Funds for the Expenditures of State Government Necessary to the Proper Operations of State Government for the Fiscal Year Ending June 30, 2013 (Emergency).

- LD 364, An Act to Amend the Laws Regulating Suppliers of Agricultural, Construction, Industrial and Forestry Equipment.

- LD 452, An Act Concerning Hurricane Deductibles.

- LD 457, An Act to Eliminate Certain Data Collection Requirements of the Forest Health and Monitoring Program of the Division of Forestry.

- LD 642, An Act to Exempt All-terrain Vehicle Trail Management from Storm Water Management Requirements.

- LD 655, An Act to Amend or Repeal Outdated or Underutilized Laws Related to Transportation.

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