Idaho Delegation on Financial Reform and Jobless Benefits 

Early on June 25, a 20-hour marathon by members of the U.S. House and Senate hammered out a reconciliation bill that could transform financial regulation. The proposal would make lending agreements easier to understand, protect small borrowers from hidden penalties and fees, and restrict trading by banks for their own benefit. The approval clears the way for both houses of Congress to vote on the full financial regulatory bill next week.

Citydesk got Idaho First District Rep. Walt Minnick on the horn to ask about the new bill. Minnick said that in spite of aspects of the bill that "may result in unnecessary cost and government interference, there is more good than bad," in the legislative package.

"Based on my initial understanding of the legislation, I'm inclined to support the bill," he said.

Minnick said the next step will be new legislation, which he is crafting to oversee commercial real estate. Minnick cited a White House blue-ribbon panel that reported a 43 percent decline in commercial real estate assets in the last two years.

"And it's larger now," Minnick told Citydesk. "More individuals are credit-worthy for loans to sustain or build their businesses, but small lending institutions are stressed by collateral assets [commercial real estate] that are declining in value," he said. "They simply can't make the loans, even to eligible lenders."

Minnick told Citydesk he expects his commercial real estate reform legislation to surface before Labor Day.

In keeping with federal legislation news ...

Last week Citydesk also reported that the U.S. Senate failed to pass legislation that would have extended unemployment benefits for more than 1 million of the nation's jobless.

On Capitol Hill, Republicans got enough votes to prevent a measure extending benefits from ever going to the floor of the Senate for a vote. According to the National Employment Law Project, without Congressional action, 1.2 million Americans will exhaust their jobless benefits by the end of June.

The Idaho Department of Labor estimates as many as 22,000 Idahoans could exhaust their jobless benefits in the next three months. The agency says more than 4,000 lost jobless benefits earlier this month.

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