January 15, 2010
HEARING ON FORECLOSURE CURATIVE BILL SUCCESSFUL
After significant efforts by the Consumer & Financial Institution Section and the Real Estate & Title Section, at a public hearing on LD 1707, which proposes changes to the recently enacted Home Ownership law (Ch. 402) , amendments offered by the sections to further clarify provisions within the law were accepted by the members of the Insurance & Financial Services Committee. Though the Committee to-date has only taken a tentative vote in support of amendments to Chapter 402, and will have a final work session on all of the amendments, the MSBA is cautiously optimistic that the amendments will be adopted. We anticipate some tweaking to the language of the amendments, but thanks to a number of the section members being present at the public hearing, the amendments have a good chance of being incorporated into LD 1707.
MSBA spoke in support of amending LD 1707 with a number of curative changes to the current law. The MSBA's testimony made clear to the IFS Committee that the Association's intent was to further clarify the law and not undermine its provisions. We anticipate a final work session on the bill on January 19, and will continue to keep you apprised of its status. To members of the two sections and all those who attended the public hearings and assisted in the testimony and drafting of the amendments – a hearty THANK YOU to all!
HEARING ON UNAUTHORIZED PRACTICE OF LAW
A bill conforming the statute pertaining to the unauthorized practice of law (LD 1622), is scheduled for public hearing before the Judiciary Committee at 1:00 p.m. on January 21. LD 1622 is submitted on behalf of the Attorney General to ensure the statute is updated and conforms with the new Rule 5.5 of the Rules of Professional Conduct. MSBA will be speaking in support of LD 1622.
Judiciary Committee Work Session
On Tuesday, January 12, 2010, the Judiciary Committee held a work session on five bills that were carried over from the first session of the 124th Legislature.
LD 1378 – An Act To Adopt Portions of the Uniform Mediation Act
The bill’s sponsor, Representative Wagner (D – Lewiston), discussed changes to the Maine Rules of Evidence adopted by the Law Court and stated that legislative action was not needed. The Law Court promulgated new rules of evidence that became effective on January 1, 2010. Rule 408 was modified regarding the admissibility of statements made during mediation and Rule 514 was adopted to create a “mediator’s privilege.” For more information see: http://www.courts.state.me.us/rules_forms_fees/rules/MREvid408-514Amend.pdf
In light of these changes to the Maine Rules of Evidence, the Judiciary Committee voted unanimously to report this bill out as “ought not to pass,” effectively killing this legislation.
LD 539 – An Act To Create a Traffic Court
Since the Legislature adjourned in the summer of 2009, representatives from the Secretary of State’s Office and the Judicial Branch have met to discuss the need for a traffic court. They concluded that there is no need for legislation at this point.
The Committee voted unanimously to report this bill out as “ought not to pass,” effectively killing this legislation.
LD 1256 – An Act to Prohibit Predispute Mandatory Binding Arbitration Clauses in Consumer Contracts
William Lund, Superintendent of the Maine Bureau of Consumer Credit Protection, discussed stakeholder meetings regarding this legislation. Apparently, business interests and consumer advocates were not able to come to an agreement on a Committee Amendment that was proposed to this bill last session. One central sticking point is whether the Committee Amendment is pre-empted by the Federal Arbitration Act.
The Committee has asked the Attorney General’s office to review the Committee Amendment to see if it is pre-empted by the Federal Arbitration Act. The Committee voted unanimously to table this bill for one week in order to hear from the Attorney General’s office.
LD 1289 – An Act To Enact the Uniform Debt Management Services Act
William Lund, Superintendent of the Maine Bureau of Consumer Credit Protection, discussed stakeholder meetings regarding this legislation. The Committee is considering the uniform act with some amendments to take into account existing Maine law that regulates debt settlement companies. The main sticking point on this bill is the statutory fee schedule set forth in this legislation. Debt settlement companies argue that Maine fees are currently so low that this service is rarely offered in Maine and that this bill would set fees so low that these businesses will continue to not operate in Maine. Consumer advocates argue that these fees need to be low in order for these services to provide any value to consumers.
The Committee voted unanimously to table this bill for one week in order to give stakeholders a chance to work out their differences.
The Appropriations Financial Affairs Committee spent a full week receiving public testimony on the Governor's proposed supplemental budget. Deep cuts in health, human services and education brought hundreds of people to the State House protesting the loss of services and uniting behind a call for a one-cent increase in the sales tax. The Governor continued to voice his opposition to any new taxes. With the public hearings on the budget now complete, the policy committees will address the input received at those public hearings and make recommendations back to the Appropriations Committee for its consideration.
STATE OF THE STATE
Governor Baldacci will be presenting his final State of the State to the Maine Legislature on Thursday, January 21 at 7:00 p.m. Because this is expected to be his final address to the Legislature, it is anticipated he will focus some of his remarks regarding his tenure in office, his accomplishments, and his desires for the final year of his service. The address will be televised live on the channels of the Maine Public Broadcasting Network.
LD 1608 (office of administrative law judges for licensing boards) – Public Hearing is January 21, 2010 at 1:00 p.m. in Room 208 of the Cross Office Building.
LD 1610 (silver alert program) – Public Hearing is January 19, 2010 at 1:00 p.m. in Room 436 of the State House.
LD 1622 (laws governing the practice of law) – Public Hearing is January 21, 2010 at 1:00 p.m. in Room 438 of the State House.
LD 1631 (responsible recycling of consumer products) – Public Hearing is January 22, 2010 at 9:00 a.m. in Room 214 of the Cross Office Building.
Attached please find a copy of your Legislative Database. We recommend you read the database carefully, because a number of legislative proposals have been introduced, with public hearings and work sessions already scheduled.
Click here to open the database.
Attached please find an updated Regulatory Database highlighting any changes in new proposed or newly adopted rules of interest to MSBA.
Click here to open the Regulatory Database.
As always, please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions:
Pattie Aho at 207-622-6311 or firstname.lastname@example.org