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Calif. BHPH Bills Face Deadlines

May 22, 2012

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Time is running out on three bills that aim to set new restrictions for the state’s buy-here, pay-here dealers.

The measures must be voted on before the current legislative session ends on June 1. If the bills don’t make the deadline, they will need to be reintroduced during the next legislative session, which begins on Aug. 6.

The bill closest to meeting that deadline is Assembly Bill 1447, championed by Assemblyman Mike Feuer (D-Torrance). It passed the committee level on May 16 by a 12-5 vote and is headed to the Assembly floor. The bill must be acted on prior to May 31, and, if passed, will require that BHPH dealers provide a limited warranty for major vehicle components. It also mandates that dealers disclose and get written consent from consumers when ignition shutdown technology is installed in a vehicle. The two other bills, AB 1534 and Senate Bill 956, have a longer way to go after stalling out at the committee level.

Twice postponed, the vote on AB 1534 by the Assembly Appropriations Committee is expected to happen this Friday, said Jeff Barbosa, a spokesperson for Assemblyman Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont)’s office. His measure, which passed the Judiciary Committee by a 6-3 vote earlier this year, would require that dealers display a window sticker that discloses the reasonable market value of a vehicle for sale. Bob Franzoia, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, noted that Wieckowski’s bill must pass through the committee by Friday to meet the legislative fiscal committees’ deadline.

Senate Bill 956 has the further road to travel after the Senate Appropriations Committee tabled its vote. The measure, introduced by Senator Ted Lieu (D-Torrance), was placed on suspense file on May 14, but is expected to be revisited this week. If passed, Lieu’s bill would set the strongest cap on auto loan interest rates in the nation at 17.25 percent. The legislation would also set mandatory grace periods for repossessions, and make it easier for vehicle owners to reinstate a repossessed vehicle.

“I think there are cost pressures to the local cities,” Theo Cline, Lieu’s staff consultant, said of the appropriations committee’s delayed vote, adding that the committee will decide on May 24 whether to remove the bill from suspension.

The three lawmakers introduced their bills after a series of articles published in the Los Angeles Times painted BHPH dealers in an unfavorable light. The articles also caught the attention of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, with the bureau’s director Richard Cordray announcing his concerns regarding the practices of BHPH dealers at a press conference in January.

 

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