By Michael Collins
The Florida Senate passed the final version of the bank friendly foreclosure bill HB 87 on May 3. The bill finally appeared on Governor Rick Scott’s the legislative web site May 30 with May 27 as the date the bill was presented to the governor. May 27 was Memorial Day. According to the “Official Website of the Florida House of Representatives,” the bill was presented to the governor on May 28. (Screen shots 1 and 2)
Using the May 28 presentation date, the governor has until June 12 to veto the bill (15 days). If he signs it or does nothing by that date, the bill becomes law. There is still time for those opposed to sign the petition requesting a veto by Governor Scott.
The mainstream media has barely covered this controversial legislation. Activist groups have been silent for the most part. Nevertheless, if signed, HB 87 may become the supercharger for the powerful foreclosure engine that operates in Florida. Florida had 20,000 more foreclosures than California over 12 months, a state twice its size.
On May 29, the Orlando Sentinel covered PICO United Florida, a social justice organization consisting of 60 religious congregations in the Orlando area. The group attacked the notion that Florida’s current foreclosure court hearings are somehow responsible for Florida’s lingering low property values. PICO urges Floridians to contact Governor Scott and ask him to veto the legislation. In April, PICO supported Senator Darren Soto (D-Orlando) who opposed the bill citing a lack of due process for homeowners.
The Florida foreclosure process was very friendly to banks and a challenge for homeowners before HB 87. If the bill is signed, the banks will have an even greater advantage. The burden of proof will be shifted to homeowners at foreclosure hearings. They will need to prove that they should not be evicted. Currently, the plaintiff, the bank, has the burden of proof in accord with nearly 250 years of legal tradition in the United States. For homeowners who contest the foreclosure, the ability to gather evidence and test the bank’s claims is virtually eliminated.
The banks may be unveiling some grand strategy to boost their efforts to evict homeowners and take their homes. March 2013 foreclosure starts were up 200% in New York, 194% in Maryland, and 154% in Washington State. Were those huge increases preceded by some supposedly consumer friendly legislation like HB 87?
Florida is next in line.
This article may be reposted with attribution of authorship and a link to this article.