A bill to make small reforms to the subprime mortgage lending industry narrowly passed the Oregon House yesterday, with no help from Central Oregon's two Republican legislators.
The measure, HB 3603, squeaked by on a mostly party-line vote of 31-29. Three Democratic legislators defected, but three Republicans - Bill Garrard of Klamath Falls, John Lim of Gresham and Donna Nelson of McMinnville - crossed the aisle to give it the winning margin.
Reps. Chuck Burley of Bend and Gene Whisnant of Sunriver both voted no.
The bill (read the full text here) would set an expiration date for the prepayment penalties that borrowers have to pay if they refinance or pay off their mortgages early. It also would require mortgage lenders to disclose all the terms, fees and costs associated with loans. The mortgage industry's only hope of derailing the reforms now is in the Senate, where Democrats hold an 18-11 edge.
The win was seen as giving a boost to the U.S. Senate hopes of House Speaker Jeff Merkley, who has said he'll make the subprime mortgage mess an issue in his campaign.
Meanwhile, will Democrat Judy Stiegler, who's planning to run against Burley, make an issue of his vote against the reforms? The EYE will be watching.