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COLUMBIA, S.C. – After trying unsuccessfully for four years to move a predatory lending bill out of committee, South Carolina’s credit unions are celebrating winning what they’re referring to as “a significant battle for the state’s consumers.” On April 2, members of the state House passed a bill (H.3616) that enacts the “South Carolina High-Cost and Consumer Home Loans Act” to protect consumers from predatory lending abuses. On March 26, the state Senate passed its own version of a predatory lending bill, S. 438. The South Carolina Credit Union League considers the Senate bill the stronger of the two measures because, unlike the House bill, it permits class action lawsuits, requires mandatory financial counseling, and defines flipping as more than one refinancing in a four-year period. The House bill does not permit class action lawsuits, and instead of requiring mandatory counseling, it requires a five-day “cooling off” period prior to closing for the borrower to consider the transaction. It also shortens the “flipping” period to three years. Each bill has been passed to the opposite legislative chamber which each will have the opportunity to pass the bills. The League said it expects each chamber to non-concur, and each bill will subsequently be sent to conference committee for resolution. “We’re light years ahead of where we’ve ever been with this measure,” said Steve Fowler, SCCUL EVP of Governmental Affairs and Public Affairs, and he thanked state Sen. David Thomas (R), chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, for his continued support in the effort. Fowler attributed the bill’s progress to the predatory lending measures that have been passed in North Carolina and Georgia. “With North Carolina to our north and Georgia to our south, we were sandwiched. In the past year, we’ve seen a lot of predatory lenders from North Carolina moving in to South Carolina, and we were hearing some horror stories.” In addition, Fowler said the state’s gubernatorial and attorney general candidates in last year’s elections made predatory lending protection legislation a high priority. Speaker of the House David Wilkins (R) also listed the legislation on his “top 4″ list. The South Carolina legislature has a two-year session, and the first year-session runs through the first Thursday in June. Any bill not moved on by then will carry over to next year. Fowler said the League is optimistic a compromise will be worked out between the House and Senate bills. [email protected]

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