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Saturday, April 12, 2003

Home-Loan Bill Among Last Signed

By David Miles
Journal Capitol Bureau
    SANTA FE New Mexicans taking out home loans will receive additional protection under a measure signed into law on Friday by Gov. Bill Richardson.
    The measure (committee substitute for SB 449) was among a handful of bills that Richardson signed on Friday, which was the Democratic governor's deadline to take action on bills.
    Richardson said legislators sent him 523 bills before adjourning their 60-day regular session on March 22. Of those bills, Richardson signed 436 and let another three become law without his signature, according to the Governor's Office.
    Richardson also vetoed 12 bills while "pocket vetoing" 72 more by not taking action on them by Friday's deadline, according to his office.
    Legislation pocket-vetoed by Richardson included a bill (SB 737) that would have expanded criminal trespassing.
    Under the bill, hikers would have faced misdemeanor charges if they entered private property by climbing an unmarked fence or by walking past spray-painted marks on trees 500 feet apart in a forest without written permission from the landowner.
    The Home Loan Protection Act signed by Richardson will limit refinancing fees to 2 percent of high-cost loans.
    The new law also will ensure that any refinancing provides a benefit to the borrower and require that borrowers receive credit counseling before taking out a high-cost home loan.
    The new law will take effect Jan. 1, 2004. Senate Majority Leader Manny Aragon, D-Albuquerque, was the chief sponsor of the measure.
    Other bills signed by Richardson on Friday included a measure that takes away the authority Albuquerque has to make zoning decisions in the five-mile extraterritorial ring around the city (committee substitute for SB 241).