Senator Zaffirini announces two bills coming into force on January 1


AUSTIN – Two bills passed in the 87th Legislative Session by Senator Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, consolidating civil court filing fees and banning predatory mortgage lending practices, came into force on January 1. This legislation aims to simplify legal costs and protect homebuyers. .

Texas’ civil court system is difficult enough to navigate without the added burden of a complicated fee system, according to Zaffirini. Under the previous law, the Courts Administration Office (OCA) reported 223 different filing fees in civil courts and identified potential constitutional issues regarding filing fees not collected for legitimate judicial purposes. Senate Bill (SB) 41 addresses these concerns by simplifying the cost structure of the courts and redirecting money to fund the administration of our courts.

“In 2019 my SB 346 completely overhauled the criminal justice fee system and in 2021 my SB 41 did the same for civil courts,” Zaffirini said. “I am delighted that our collaboration with the OCA has resulted in this meaningful legislation that will improve the justice system for so many people. She undertook this task at the behest of Senator Joan Huffman, R-Houston, then chair of the Senate Committee on State Affairs on which Zaffirini has served since 2015.

The bill simplifies the administration system for local officials without increasing costs for local or state governments. By making the process more efficient and less complicated, state staff will have an easier time verifying court costs, and Texans will have an easier time understanding what filing fees to pay.

Starting January 1, not only will civil court filing fees be consolidated, but predatory mortgages will also be illegal, extending protections to homebuyers against fraudulent lending practices.

In 2016, a comprehensive mortgage financing program affecting voters in Senate District 21 revealed a complex web of illegal mortgage activity that was difficult to prevent, detect or prosecute at the time.

“My staff and I were concerned about this insidious form of predatory lending and its detrimental financial impact on voters,” Zaffirini said. “Soon, however, we realized that the problem was statewide and that homebuyers needed protection from threats to the safety and well-being of their families.

Block financing is a type of mortgage in which a seller finances the sale of a residential property that is already the subject of an outstanding lien, often without notifying the buyer of the previous lien or the holder of the existing lien. the sale. If the seller does not pay the senior mortgagee, the mortgagee can foreclose on the property, and the buyer, who often lives on the property, is foreclosed without ever having missed a payment to the wrap seller.

After many residents were victims of this fraud, Zaffirini introduced bills in 2017 and 2019 banning the practice. They were passed easily by the Senate, but died in the House of Representatives both years. In 2021, the legislature finally passed SB 43, which eliminates legal ambiguities and loopholes that have allowed predatory mortgage lenders to operate illegally without repercussions.

“Our success began with an issue originally identified in Southeast Austin and culminated with the collaboration of affected Texans statewide,” Zaffirini said. “Thank you to the many voters, stakeholders and advocates who have helped ensure that homebuyers in Texas are no longer harmed by global mortgages. “

Zaffirini and his team are already drafting bills for the next legislative session to be held on January 10, 2023.


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