The Insurance Capital Standards Clarification Act of 2014 (H.R. 5461).

According to our sources on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., proponents of the so-called Mortgage Choice Act (H.R. 3211) have attached their bill to a new piece of federal legislation heading to a roll-call vote today.  The new bill is “The Insurance Capital Standards Clarification Act of 2014” (H.R. 5461).  H.R. 5461 is designed as a means for allowing a depository institution (read: a bank) holding company to avoid the requirement of being regulated by federal banking authorities if they also file holding company registration statements as an insurer and maintain adequate levels of capital in accordance with state regulation for such insurers.  In other words, banks that want to acquire interests in insurance companies can do so in an attempt to avoid minimum capital requirements under the Federal Reserve rules created as a consequence of Dodd-Frank.   If anyone is afraid of banks in the business of title insurance, this is your day for action!   In a procedural move, the GOP proponents of H.R. 3211 have attached their bill to H.R. 5461 to push both through Congress in an attempt to present them as election theater for the upcoming November mid-terms.  A vote on the whole package of legislation will happen today.  We need you to help us stop this from happening!  We need all of you to take ten minutes of your time this morning to place a call to your Representative and to each Representative in your state delegation to tell them to vote “no” on H.R. 5461.   To find your representative in the House, please click here.   To find your representative in the Senate, please click here.       Most members of...

HR 3211 – The bull-rush is on

Last week, the House Financial Services Committee (HFSC), in a surprise move, convened a full committee hearing on 15 pending bills including HR 3211 and “voice-voted” HR 3211 onto the House floor for further consideration. The Chairman of the HFSC, Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX), ordered the voice vote on HR 3211 instead of a roll call vote, or the typical voting pattern for committee legislation because he suspected that several Republican members on the committee would vote “no” and thereby jeopardize the chances HR 3211 can move successfully in the House and the Senate.  The voice-vote was called with barely twenty members present.  It was a procedural passage of the bill. Despite our pronouncements to the contrary, we are now firmly back at work on HR 3211.  We need you and your staff to help us engage members of Congress to understand why HR 3211 and the Senate version, known as S 949, are bad for consumers and worse for small business owners in the title insurance industry. Who Stood Up for Independent Title Insurance Agents? Representative Keith Ellison (D-MN) was the lone voice of dissent in the poorly attended hearing and entered two amendments to HR 3211 that would have extended the time frame for a consumer to make a RESPA-related claim from 1 year to 3 years under the statute and would limit the amount of return a referral source would derive from their ownership in an affiliated business arrangement. Both amendments were referred to the House Judiciary Committee and additional movement on them in the Republican-controlled House is unlikely. What Now? With HR 3211 moving to the House floor, we need...

Don’t let RESPRO and others determine your fate?

This is another important update on the pending legislation known as the Mortgage Choice Act and efforts by the affiliated business lobby to decrease your efforts to compete for settlement business and to raise the cost of closings for American consumers. Members of NAILTA were in Washington DC on February 24th to meet with members of the House Financial Services Committee and the Senate Banking Committee to discuss potential bill alternatives to H.R. 3211, H.R. 1077 and S. 949. Our Policy and Legislative Affairs team will be back in Washington DC on March 11, 2014 to meet with more members of Congress to continue the fight against RESPRO and the banking lobby’s efforts to modify Dodd-Frank to favor their affiliated business arrangements. Our all-volunteer contingent of independent settlement professionals have over 40 meetings scheduled in one day with members of the House and Senate concerning the issues important to you and your livelihood. No other trade organization is working this hard for your interests. The Mortgage Choice Act is the pro-affiliated business arrangement bill that is designed to modify the Dodd-Frank Act’s qualified mortgage provision and exempt all points and fees charged by lender affiliates from the 3% cap on points and fees for qualified mortgages. It was introduced in the House as H.R. 3211 and in the Senate as S. 949. NAILTA opposes both pieces of legislation. Who is Fighting For the Affiliates? RESPRO, the National Association of Realtors, the Mortgage Bankers Association, the National Association of Credit Unions, Quicken Loans, and others linked to the lending industry. Each of these trade organizations has an army of lobbyists...

House Committee Hears From NAILTA on HR 3211

Last week, the House Financial Services Committee (HFSC) held a hearing entitled, “How Prospective and Current Homeowners Will Be Harmed by the Qualified Mortgage Rule.” Testifying for banks and credit unions were representatives of the lending industry who gave information concerning the impacts the new rule would allegedly have on their affiliated title insurance operations, among other issues. The most notable of those testifying was Quicken Loans CEO, Bill Emerson, who defended his company’s position that affiliate title operations are necessary to permit Quicken Loans to continue lending to low and moderate income Americans. There were no title insurance industry experts in attendance at the hearing and none were invited by the committee to talk on the issues relative to affiliate title providers. Despite the fact that no one from the title insurance industry was invited to attend or testify, the remaining witnesses gave numerous anecdotal examples of how affiliated title providers are “cheaper” than independent title providers, more “efficient” than independent title providers and “competing on the same playing field” as independent title providers. The members generally accepted the testimony of the witnesses as professional guidance on the values of title insurance. NAILTA did manage to submit written testimony in the form of the enclosed and was also mentioned by Representative Keith Ellison (D-MN) during this exchange with Quicken Loans CEO Bill Emerson (click here): NAILTA continues to work with Congress to increase the role of independent land title agents in Washington DC.  Those efforts are assisted by our members, like you, who support us through membership and through our political action committee.  As you can see, we are making...

The Sprint to January 10th: HFSC Won’t Vote on H.R. 3211 This Year

Last week, we updated you on our progress with H.R. 3211, the so-called Mortgage Choice Act, that is being pushed through Congress by RESPRO, the banking lobby and others with affiliated business interests in the title insurance industry. We are happy to report that according to our contacts from within the House Financial Services Committee (HFSC), H.R. 3211 will not be voted on in the committee prior to the end of the year. That means that with the exception of four Congressional business days in January prior to January 10th, the qualified mortgage rule will most likely go into effect without H.R. 3211 and affiliate fees will thereby count against the 3% cap for qualified mortgages. The fact that no vote is scheduled is good news. However, as with any successful endeavor in Washington DC, there are far too many well-entrenched and well-financed foes to celebrate the failure of RESPRO and their allies to get H.R. 3211 passed before January 10th. Instead, with H.R. 3211 sitting on the books for the 113th Congress, we fully expect that the affiliated business arrangement lobby, which includes title insurance underwriters and large AfBA title agencies from within the title insurance industry, to continue their efforts to get their law passed. In short, it isn’t over yet. The bill still has 26 co-sponsors, the vast majority of which are Republicans, and RESPRO has succeeded in getting the Ranking Minority Member, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) to take a neutral position on the measure, thereby guaranteeing that if the matter ever comes up for a vote in the House Financial Services Committee that she will...

The Sprint to January 10th: Update on HR 3211

RESPRO and the banking lobby continue their efforts to push the Mortgage Choice Act in Congress. The bill now has 26 co-sponsors, the vast majority of which are Republicans, and RESPRO has succeeded in getting the Ranking Minority Member, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) to take a neutral position on the measure, thereby guaranteeing that if the matter comes up for a vote in the House Financial Services Committee that she will not organize support to block it. The Mortgage Choice Act is the pro-affiliated business arrangement bill that is designed to modify the Dodd-Frank Act’s qualified mortgage provision and exempt all points and fees charged by those affiliates from the 3% cap on points and fees for qualified mortgages. If the bill does not pass, the qualified mortgage provision will go into effect on January 10, 2014 thereby requiring all affiliate fees to count against the 3% cap. Who is Fighting For H.R. 3211? RESPRO, the National Association of Realtors, the Mortgage Bankers Association, the National Association of Credit Unions, Quicken Loans, and others linked to the lending industry. Each of these trade organizations has an army of lobbyists who are pushing members of Congress to sponsor and endorse H.R. 3211. The argument in favor of H.R. 3211 is potently naive. Lenders and affiliates are telling Congress that without the bill they will not be able to lend to lower income Americans. Not to be outdone by the ridiculousness of the first argument, they are also telling them that consumers prefer affiliates because they are cheaper and faster than independent providers. The rebuttal to that argument is elementary. First,...