2006 Legislative Update from the
New York State Assembly
Committee on Banks

Sheldon Silver, Speaker • Darryl C. Towns, Chair
December 2006

Message from the Chair
Assemblyman Darryl C. Towns
As the newly appointed Chairman of the Assembly Banks Committee, I am pleased to provide an update on the Committee’s activities during the 2006 legislative session. I would like to thank Speaker Sheldon Silver for his support, and I thank my Assembly colleagues for their cooperation. Additionally, I would like to acknowledge my colleague Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan, the outgoing Chairwoman of the Banks Committee, for her years of hard work and dedication to the Committee. During this session, the Committee reported legislation that would protect homeowners in default or foreclosure against home equity theft scams. This important legislation recently was signed into law by the Governor. The Committee also worked on legislation designed to strengthen the mortgage industry, legislation that would attempt to bring more banks to underserved communities, and several bills that would make the state charter a more attractive option for banking institutions.

I look forward to working with my legislative colleagues and the banking industry in 2007, particularly in order to increase the financial literacy and education options available to the public. I believe that many of the problems that have been brought to my attention as the Chairman of the Banks Committee could be circumvented if people had a more sound financial education. Improved financial literacy across New York State not only would help people create a more solid financial situation for themselves and their families, it also would reduce the number of issues that necessitate legislative or regulatory solutions.

I strongly encourage any person with questions or concerns for the Banks Committee to contact me.

Darryl C. Towns

2006 Legislative Initiatives

Protecting Homeowners against Home Equity Theft

Equity theft scams involve homeowners, many of whom are low- and middle-income or elderly, who fall behind on their mortgages, at which point they are approached by unscrupulous individuals or businesses who promise to help solve their problems. Instead of receiving assistance, however, the homeowners are misled into surrendering their property titles for little or no benefit to themselves.

Home Equity Theft Prevention Act — A.10057-B (Towns), which has been signed into law by the Governor (Chapter 308), enacts the Home Equity Theft Prevention Act. This new law will provide protections for homeowners in default or foreclosure who sell their homes, including: requiring that any sales agreement between an equity seller and an equity purchaser be in writing; prohibiting equity purchasers from engaging in deceitful practices; and, affording homeowners a reasonable opportunity to rescind sales to equity purchasers.

Preserving the Legacy of Military Veterans

Currently, military awards found in safe deposit boxes that are deemed abandoned are allowed to be sold off at auction. Allowing these awards to be sold at auction is disrespectful to the memory of the veterans who earned them. If the owners of military awards cannot be found, then such awards should be sent to the Division of Military and Naval affairs for a more appropriate disposition.

A.7100-B (Towns) — This bill, which has been signed into law by the Governor (Chapter 297), bans the sale of any military award, medal or decoration found in safe deposit boxes deemed to be abandoned. Instead, the award will be sent to the Division of Military and Naval Affairs. Furthermore, this new law will allow awards to be displayed at the New York State Military Museum and Veterans Research Center.

Improving the Professionalism and Regulation of the Mortgage Industry

State regulators, through the Conference of State Bank Supervisors, are working to develop a nationwide registry of mortgage companies and their employees. Such a system would help increase accountability and professionalism in the mortgage industry.

A.10802-A (Greene) — This bill, which also has passed the Senate, would provide for the registration of some mortgage loan originators and also would establish educational standards for such individuals. The bill is designed not only to protect consumers against deceptive practices and entities, but also to solidify the reputation of the many mortgage bankers, brokers and employees who operate in a consistently professional manner.

A.11901 (Benjamin) — From time to time, sellers and purchasers of residential property may not execute or “close” the sale transaction upon the date and time scheduled because of the lack of funds available to pay outstanding liens, the purchase cost, and related closing costs and fees. This bill, which has been signed into law by the Governor (Chapter 500), directs the Superintendent of Banks to investigate this problem, to suggest potential solutions to this issue, and to report any findings and recommendations to the Governor and the Legislature by April 30, 2007.

Providing Improved Access to Banks for Underserved Communities

There are many communities in New York State that have little or no access to banks and the traditional financial services that banks provide. The Legislature created the Banking Development District (BDD) program in 1997 to encourage banks to establish branches in areas that demonstrate a need for enhanced banking services.

A.10121 (Peralta) — This bill would authorize banks, trust companies and national banks to apply for and be accepted into the BDD program in a preexisting banking development district. This bill has passed the Assembly.

Providing Banks with Greater Business Flexibility

A.11351 (Towns) — This bill, which has been signed into law by the Governor (Chapter 454), will help state-chartered banks to be more competitive with national banks in providing trust services. Specifically, this new law permits out-of-state state banks and trust companies to open trust offices in New York State, and also allows banking institutions to engage in certain trust acquisitions.

A.11396 (Towns) — This bill, which has been signed into law by the Governor (Chapter 455), permits banks to declare dividends more than quarterly if authorized by the Superintendent of Banks, and also allows certain banking institutions to merge with non-bank corporate subsidiaries or affiliates.

For more information, contact...

Darryl C. Towns, Chairman
New York State Assembly
Committee on Banks

Room 424
Legislative Office Building
Albany, New York 12248

840 Jamaica Avenue
Brooklyn, New York 11208


Ensuring the Effective Regulation of the Banking Industry

A sound, efficient regulatory framework is an important component in maintaining the health of New York State’s financial sector.

A.11307 (Camara) — This bill, which has been signed into law by the Governor (Chapter 456), clarifies and makes consistent the definition of budget planning and the qualifications to be licensed and engage in the business of budget planning, thereby correcting several inconsistencies arising from budget planner legislation adopted in 2002.

A.11861 (Maisel) — This bill, which has been signed into law by the Governor (Chapter 464), provides improved supervisory flexibility for the Superintendent of Banks. Specifically, this new law allows the Superintendent greater latitude in coordinating examinations with the federal banking regulators, and also gives the Superintendent some flexibility in selecting members to the Banking Board.

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