O'Malley pitches foreclosures bill to lawmakers
Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) made a rare appearance before legislative committees on Tuesday to pitch a bill he said would put financially strapped homeowners on a more even footing with "faceless, giant mortgage servicers who don't even have the decency to pick up the phone."
O'Malley's bill would give eligible borrowers the right to mediation before a foreclosure sale can take place on their home. The legislation is among the governor's top priorities this session and the latest in series of initiatives intended to stem the tide of foreclosures in Maryland.
O'Malley touted the bill to committees in both the House and Senate on Tuesday afternoon. He was accompanied by U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), who told the House Economic Matters Committee that the legislation would be "another tool to help people maintain their dreams."
The governor's testimony attracted a large media turnout reminiscent of his appearances last year to plead with lawmakers to repeal the death penalty. That measure did not pass.
The foreclosures bill is less controversial but has some critics. Republicans on the House committee questioned O'Malley about whether it would be cost-effective and whether the state is doing enough to discourage irresponsible loans in the first place.
The bill would also require mortgage servicers to pay a $100 "cost of business" filing fee to help fund housing counselors and defray judicial costs.
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