“They say, ‘You’re taking away our constitutional right,’” she said. “First of all it’s a contractual right…”

Darren Soto, D-Orlando, told a group of protesters from across the state that he believed their presence was the reason Naples Rep. Kathleen Passidomo’s foreclosure bill did not reach a committee agenda Thursday. Someone erected an Occupy tent on the fourth floor of the Florida Capitol during a protest of Naples Rep. Kathleen Passidomo’s bill to speed up the foreclosure process.


Protesters picket Passidomo’s foreclosure bill

TALLAHASSEE — A few dozen hundred Floridians from around the state converged in the Capitol Thursday for one reason: homeowner rights.

All of them were angry about House Bill 213, which they say weakens the rights of foreclosure defendants. The bill is sponsored by Rep. Kathleen Passidomo, R-Naples, and Rep. Greg Steube, R-Sarasota.

Two bus loads of protesters brought signs and left them leaning against a wall outside the room where the House Judiciary Committee discussed other bills — but not HB 213, something Rep. Darren Soto, D-Orlando, said was the result of public outcry.

“It is my belief that heavy pressure from the public has caused this bill to go back to the drawing board,” Soto told reporters following a press conference he held in opposition to the bill.

Passidomo refuted that claim, saying “it’s absolutely and utterly wrong.” The legislation did not reach the committee, she said, because negotiations over the Senate companion bill’s language were incomplete.

“I’ve been taking comments since August and making changes,” Passidomo said.

Passidomo’s legislation seeks to hasten stalled foreclosure proceedings, which she says are clogging court dockets and preventing those houses from again reaching the market. Foreclosures in Florida take 676 days, more than twice the national average, legislative staff reported.

The bill would streamline the process, reducing the number of judicial hearings from two to one.

It also allows any lien holder to request that a judge order a homeowner to rebut a foreclosure action. The judge may review the request in his or her chamber without a hearing.

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