House Bill 76: The Lights Are On, but No One is Home

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Lou Antonelli, COOPosted on Mar 19, 2021

You voted because it's essential to choose the right people who will speak on your behalf. The people you voted into North Carolina's General Assembly pleaded for your trust so they could represent your needs and voice your concerns in Raleigh.

And then came House Bill 76, which has been recently put into motion by those same people for whom you voted into state office. They turned on the lights to have the House floor vote, but was anyone home? I ask because it seems no one spoke on behalf of their constituents dealing with overwhelming personal debt.

The bill, entitled "Modernize Debt Settlement Prohibition," seeks to ban legal, ethical, and helpful organizations like Beyond Finance from helping North Carolina residents get out of the debt incurred during times of unplanned or unforeseen hardships, such as natural disasters, unforeseen repairs, or health emergencies, such as COVID-19.

Where Can North Carolinians Turn for Help?

Did you know, Experian found that North Carolina residents collectively carry debt of $371.9 billion in 2020? Many of them – some may be your neighbors, family, and friends – don't have the credit score to qualify for a personal consolidation loan.

A question to the General Assembly Representatives: "Where do you suggest they turn now?"

A relative to bail them out? A lawyer to file bankruptcy? The only certainty House Bill 76 offers is at least 16 years of making minimum payments with mounting fees and interest. All because some well-intended lawmakers don't understand the benefits of the debt settlement or their constituents' needs to use it positively.

Just like anywhere else in America, many people in North Carolina want to desperately get out from under the burden of high-interest rates, harassing collections calls, and a hefty amount of unsecured debt. But they're unable, which is why debt resolution programs are an option.

Now, the same lawmakers thankful for your vote are denying your choice to get out of debt. These lawmakers believe they have your best interests at heart, but House Bill 76 only worsens the situation.

The General Assembly Should Turn to Their Constituents

These are challenging times when people must consider what to do with their emergency savings fund and how to survive using every paper bill or plastic card they own. A CNBC and Acorns survey says 14% of Americans – nearly 46 million people – have wiped out their savings during the pandemic.

I wonder how many of those people are struggling in this state. The pandemic forced many companies out of business and more than 500,000 North Carolinians out of work. Does it make any sense for the state government to take away an option to get out of debt?

No one is saying they don't owe the money. We're just asking creditors to have a heart and understand with debt settlement that we can compromise to a sizable, affordable portion to repay creditors. And, residents of North Carolina can get a little peace back in their lives in the process.

If the state legislature passes House Bill 76, it could be detrimental. Debt settlement is a crucial and valid solution being stripped away from North Carolinians who use it every day. Clients can significantly reduce what they owe and pay it off in four years or less through a proven debt resolution process. Now, that's savings!

Do you know the North Carolina state motto? It reads "Esse quam videri." Translated from Latin, that is "To be, rather than to seem." It's a stark reminder to all North Carolinians to do more than saying something. Rather, walk the walk.

Oddly enough, that's what we are asking for the state legislators to do right now. Represent all your constituents, not just the ones with stellar FICO scores. Maybe then, and only then, we can "settle" this issue too.