Florida Attorney News – State Attorneys General to Congress: Don’t Preempt State Enforcement of Consumer Protection Laws

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TALLAHASSEE, FL – Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum today joined 39 other Attorneys General in urging Congress to uphold the role of the states in enforcing consumer protection laws, should the Congress create a Consumer Financial Protection Agency (CFPA). The Attorneys General stated that allowing the states to enforce federal standards will maximize government resources, promote honest competition and deter potential violators.

“It’s important that states are not precluded from protecting their citizens, and that state and federal authorities can work together to better enhance consumer protection efforts,” said Attorney General McCollum.

While not speaking to the merits of creating such an agency, the Attorneys General offered several reasons for not preempting state laws and for supporting state enforcement of new CFPA regulations. The Attorneys General stressed they were not seeking to challenge federal authority but to enhance it and make it more efficient and effective on behalf of consumers nationwide.

The landmark predatory lending settlement against Countrywide, which returned hundreds of millions of dollars to victimized borrowers while forcing changes to lending practices, was cited as an example of the states’ ability to assist federal regulatory agencies with their enforcement burden. Florida was a lead state in the litigation against Countrywide and the subsequent settlement.

Federal preemption of state laws is a priority issue for the Attorneys General. In January, the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) called on the Obama administration and the 111th Congress to resist federal preemption of state laws, particularly in the enforcement of state banking and mortgage foreclosure laws.

Yesterday, in a similar effort to enhance the Attorney General’s ability and jurisdiction to protect consumers, McCollum asked the Florida Legislature for expanded authority to bring civil lawsuits against abusive debt collectors. The draft legislative language would make certain debt collector practices a “per se” violation of the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act, which would allow the Attorney General, as an enforcing authority of the act, to pursue a violation of the debt collection act as unfair or deceptive without having to prove separately unfairness or deception.

A copy of the preemption letter sent today is available online at:

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