I recently spent a full week traveling the district meeting with a variety of different folks and I had another busy weekend this past weekend. Today, I wanted to take a moment to give you an update on some of the things I have been working on.
FORECLOSURE PREVENTION AND SURVIVAL WORKSHOP
As you or friends you know may be painfully aware, Arizona has consistently ranked in the top three states in the country for foreclosures. Over the last year, home prices in Arizona have fallen over 30%, homeowners keep slipping into foreclosure and every foreclosed home devalues the property of the homes around it.
We have seen homeowners who have been unable to contact their lenders, homeowners that don’t have information they need or homeowners who fall victim to scams. I believe that helping folks stay in their homes during this economic downturn will strengthen our neighborhoods and stabilize housing prices, which benefits us all.
Since my last update, I had the opportunity to hold a Foreclosure Prevention and Survival Workshop in Scottsdale. Over 100 individuals participated and received one-on-one financial counseling and directions to resources, information and guidance that can help them make the best decisions to protect their homes and financial future.
I have heard disturbing stories from individuals across our community about how some credit card companies were arbitrarily hiking their credit card fees, interest rates and other unexplained penalties. While credit card companies offer a valuable service, I believe that consumers – especially during these tough economic times – deserve protection from unfair practices and predatory lending.
I am happy to report that late last month, the Congress passed and President Obama signed the Credit Cardholders’ Bill of Rights. This new law will protect consumers by putting to an end to some of the most offensive practices like retroactive rate hikes. It will stop unscrupulous lenders from shutting down the payment window early so they can declare payments “late” and charge a fee.
In a short speech I delivered on the House floor, I stated that one wouldn’t think we’d have to pass a law to say that payments made on or by their due date should be documented as “on time”, but sadly, that is how bad things have gotten. For more information on the Credit Cardholders Bill of Rights and to read The Arizona Republic article, click here. [note: dead link; the AZRep has already pulled the article from its website]
EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITY FOR OUR VETERANS
As you know, I had the honor of joining with Sen. Jim Webb of Virginia last year to introduce and ultimately pass the Post-9/11 GI Bill. The new GI Bill is now law and takes effect August 1, 2009.
This past weekend, I hosted a couple of workshops with an educational expert from the Department of Veterans’ Affairs to make sure that veterans and their families have the information they need to apply for and utilize the benefit.
Saturday marked the 65th Anniversary of D-Day, and while hundreds of National Guardsmen and women were participating in a drill over the weekend, we had the opportunity to provide information to over 200 veterans and members of their families at the Arizona National Guard Headquarters and Mesa Community College.
For more information on the GI Bill and services to our veterans, you can read an article written by Chandler City Councilman Matt Orlando, published in the East Valley Tribune, by clicking here.
NPR’s “HEAR AND NOW” & REPUBLIC EDITORIAL
I was fortunate to have been given the chance to discuss the Credit Cardholder’s Bill of Rights, healthcare reform and the Post-9/11 GI bill on 91.5 KJZZ, Arizona’s NPR station. In the segment, Sen. John McCain went first and my interview follows. You can listen to the interview by clicking here.
I had the opportunity of participating in an Arizona Republic editorial in their Scottsdale edition highlighting the first few months of the new Congress and President Obama’s new administration. The editorial titled “Economic Crisis Needs Bipartisan Solutions” can be read by clicking here.