McCollum praises Bush for signing housing bill

Chris Rizo Jul. 31, 2008, 12:55pm

Bill McCollum (R)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Legal Newsline)-Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum said Thursday that legislation signed yesterday by President George W. Bush will help protect homeowners.

The Republican attorney general said the bipartisan-backed American Housing Rescue and Foreclosure Prevention Act of 2008 would bar convicted criminals from working in the mortgage loan industry.

"I am pleased that this new federal law, signed yesterday by President Bush, will provide greater protection from former criminals who may be seeking to victimize homeowners through key positions in the mortgage loan industry," McCollum said.

The attorney general said in a statement he planned to seek a change in state law to also bar ex-felons who are granted clemency from being granted certain licenses for occupations.

"By preventing ex-felons from obtaining these licenses for a period of time, we would be helping decrease the high probability of recidivism and the potential for additional crimes being committed in the mortgage industry and others," he said.

The Senate approved the legislation 72 to 13, and earlier in the week the House approved the bill 272 to 152.

The legislation also allows the Federal Housing Administration to guarantee up to $300 billion in lower-cost mortgages so long as lenders accept significant losses. The bill also gives the Treasury Department authority to temporarily increase its lending to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and buy their stock.

Included in the measure are about $15 billion in tax breaks, including a tax credit that amounts to an interest-free loan of up to $7,500 for first-time home buyers.

"We look forward to putting in place new authorities to improve confidence and stability in markets and to provide better oversight for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac," said White House spokesman Tony Fratto.

"The Federal Housing Administration will begin to implement new policies intended to keep more deserving American families in their homes," Fratto added.

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