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Lake Worth lawmaker wants to ban bank debit-card fees

Monday, October 17th, 2011 by Dara Kam

Rep. Jeff Clemens, a Lake Worth Democrat, has filed a bill that would ban banks from charging customers for using debit cards.

The bill (HB 375) doesn’t have a Senate sponsor and the GOP-dominated legislature is unlikely to pass the measure. Clemens filed his bill on Monday, capitalizing on recent protests by Occupy Wall Street supporters, who held rallies throughout the world this weekend, including in Lake Worth.

“The banks sold us all on the idea of a cashless society, and now that we’ve bought into their promise of free, easy access to our own money, they want to charge us for it,” Clemens, who served as Lake Worth mayor before coming to Tallahassee, said in a statement. “Anyone with a sense of decency should be outraged.”

Clemens’ proposal makes it unlawful “to charge or impose a dormancy fee, and inactivity fee or charge, or a service fee with respect to the use or holding of a debit card by a consumer.”

Wells Fargo and Bank of America, the first banks to announce monthly fees for debit cards, are raking in huge profits, according to Clemens. Bank of America has paid no federal income tax for the past two years, claiming losses in its federal filings and is planning to eliminate 30,000 jobs. Wells Fargo netted more than $7.5 billion in profits during the first half of this year, Clemens said.

Federal laws govern banking regulations but Clemens said a recent U.S. Supreme Court that gave the New York attorney general oversight over some federally chartered financial institutions.

Representative Clemens has also started a Facebook page entitled G.R.E.E.D. (Get Rid of Excessive Expenses for Debitcards) that he hopes will serve as a sort of rallying point for those who are outraged and a clearinghouse for banking horror stories.

Clemens said he also started a Facebook page called “Get Rid of Excessive Expenses for Debitcards,” or G.R.E.E.D. to “serve as a rallying point for those who are outraged and a clearinghouse for banking horror stories,” according to the release.

SCOFLA recommends mediation for home foreclosures

Monday, August 17th, 2009 by Dara Kam

foreclosure-150x150A Florida Supreme Court panel recommended court-ordered mediation for all residential home foreclosures except in cases where banks and homeowners come to an agreement on their own.

The high court appointed the Task Force on Residential Mortgage Foreclosure Cases earlier this year to make suggestions on how to deal with the influx of foreclosures in the state’s courts. Florida has the second highest foreclosure rate in the nation.

The panel released its final report today, likening the impact of the increase in foreclosures on the courts to a car-jammed evacuation route during a hurricane.

The recommendations include expediting foreclosures on abandoned properties and dividing foreclosures into three categories: mortgages on homesteaded properties, abandoned properties and rental properties.

The 15-member panel of judges, lawyers and financiers acknowledged that the state’s budget crisis makes appointing more judges and clerks an unreasonable option while addressing the urgency of the situation.

“Instead, their recommendations include “the least of evils that can work on an emergency basis to immediately begin to meet the challenge of these cases. We believe it is imperative that the Florida Supreme Court address the explosion of mortgage foreclosure filings as soon as possible for the welfare of our courts, our communities, our businesses, and our state,” the panel wrote.

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