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Reprinted from April 1999 ABI Journal

Web posted and Copyright © April 1, 1999, American Bankruptcy Institute.

The House held three days of hearings on bankruptcy reform (H.R. 833) during March, with more than 50 witnesses. The House and Senate bankruptcy subcommittees also held a joint hearing. The bipartisan House bill, sponsored by Rep. George Gekas (R-PA), is on a fast track for consideration by the House Judiciary Committee in April.

Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA), along with Sen. Robert Torricelli (D-NJ), Sen. Joseph Biden (D-DE) and Jeff Sessions (R-AL), have introduced the Senate version of bankruptcy reform (S. 625). The bipartisan bill, which has some key differences from the House bill, is also on a fast track. Action could occur soon after the Senate returns from its spring recess on April 11.

Legislation to extend chapter 12 for an additional six months to October 1, 1999 is pending in the Senate at press time. H.R. 808 passed the House on March 9, but unless an identical bill also passes the Senate and is signed by the President by April 1, the law will lapse.

Sens. Herbert Kohl (D-WI) and Jeff Sessions (R-AL) reintroduced legislation to cap the homestead exemption at $100,000.

Ernst & Young has released another national study on debtors' ability to repay under the means-testing standard in H.R. 833 and has found that 10 percent of 1997 chapter 7 filers had the ability to repay 53 percent of their unsecured debts ($3 billion) over five years. The filers likely to be impacted by H.R. 833 are those with higher income (over $51,000 annually).

Rep. John LaFalce (D-NY) has introduced legislation (H.R. 900) to amend the Truth in Lending Act to enhance consumer disclosures regarding credit card terms and charges, to restrict issuance of credit cards to students, to expand protections in connection with unsolicited credit cards and third-party checks and other unreasonable credit practices.


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