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Posted Monday, April 25, 2011, at 12:13 PM

As we observe Easter may our remembrance always be about the true meaning. While some may enjoy the time off and the traditions that are associated with the holiday, let us never forget the price paid by our Savior for our sins, the death, burial and resurrection at this time.

May we continue to remember our armed forces, while separated from their families across the world and put in harm's way to ensure we enjoy the freedoms in our country that we do. The point I make is freedom isn't free as ultimate prices have been paid for it.

As spring has arrived, so have the storms along with flash flooding. Families have suffered loss of property, displaced from their homes and communities with major changes impacting their lives. While this time of year usually has tractors making tracks in the field water has engulfed the soil and put planting on hold. May we always be mindful of one another with a willingness to help as we can.

On the Legislative Front

With the weak economy comes an increase in the number of companies offering debt relief services. Many of you have seen the ads of these companies promising to get people out of debt. These companies negotiate with creditors to lower the monthly payments owed making the debt more manageable.

While these companies can be useful by restructuring debt, they shouldn't take advantage of those who seek their services. Last week, the House passed HB 661 formalizing the process by which these companies operate.

Previously, debt relief agencies could start charging people for lowering their debt before they provide a single service. HB 661clarifies the payment process of debt adjusters. The bill prohibits the receipt of any payment unless the agency has renegotiated, settled, reduced or altered the terms of at least one debt.

Under HB 661, debt relief agencies must also disclose the amount of time it will take to complete the renegotiation process and the amount of money the debtor should accumulate before the agency will make a settlement offer. This must be done prior to the debtor's consent to pay for the service, protecting the consumer even more.

We should encourage debt repayment. It's definitely preferable to bankruptcy. That's why creditors are willing to work with these companies. Creditors know that if the consumer declares bankruptcy, they will not get anything.

Unfortunately, a few bad companies are exploiting people who aren't willing to declare bankruptcy by charging them outrageous sums of money without providing a single service. HB 661 goes far in ensuring the protection of consumers from these predatory companies.

In the Office

I would like to thank Jonce and Danielle Chidister; Mary Lynn Jones-Wright, Carlene Lockett, Linda Stewart and Dorothy Adams from CASA; Stephen Sokaloff from Kennett; Allen and Margaret Tesreau from Campbell; Buddy Randolph and Ms. Kearbey from Poplar Bluff for visiting your Capitol this week.

As always, it is an honor to serve you in the Missouri House. If you would like to discuss any issue, please call 573-751-3629. You can also email me at Kent.Hampton@house.mo.gov. I look forward to hearing from you.

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163rd Capitol Report
Rep. Kent Hampton - 163rd District
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