Legislative Highlights Mar 1998
Two new bankruptcy bills (H.R. 3146, H.R. 3150) were introduced in the House in February. (See p. 6 of this issue for an analysis of key provisions). The House is planning a series of hearings beginning March 5, covering both consumer and commercial issues. H.R. 3150, by Rep. Gekas (R-PA), will become the vehicle for House action this year.
The House Subcommittee on Commercial and Administrative Law, (Rep. Gekas, Chairman) held a hearing on bills (H.R. 2604, H.R. 2611) that would permit tithing in chapter 7 and 13 cases. The bipartisan legislation is expected to be approved as part of amendments to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Susan Jensen Conklin, formerly of the staff of the National Bankruptcy Review Commission, has joined the House Judiciary Committee staff handling bankruptcy issues.
The Senate Banking Committee Subcommittee on Financial Institutions (Sen. Faircloth, R-NC, Chairman) held a hearing on the causes and consequences of rising consumer bankruptcies. The Committee does not have direct jurisdiction over the Bankruptcy Code, but plans further hearings.
The Senate Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on Administrative Oversight and the Courts (Sen. Grassley, R-IA, Chairman) will hold a series of hearings in
March or April on consumer and commercial issues (e.g., small business, health care bankruptcies).
Sen. Grassley also hopes to introduce a bankruptcy judgeship bill, providing for approximately 15 new positions. Discussions with the judiciary continue over whether the bill should restrict non-case-related judicial travel. A bill providing for 18 new positions (H.R. 1596) passed the House last year.