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Craig D. Robins, Esq. New York Bankruptcy Attorney, Longisland bankruptcy attorney

“ Craig D. Robins, Esq., has been a practicing Long Island bankruptcy attorney for over twenty-four years ”

Craig D. Robins, Esq.

The 2004 Congress Moves Quickly to Toughen Bankruptcy Laws

Posted on Monday (February 23, 2004) at 3:32 pm to Bankruptcy Legislation
Suffolk Lawyer

Congress Is Now Speeding Forward in 2004. In a chess-like political move, using a bill to extend farmer bankruptcies, Senate and House Republicans just embarked upon a tricky gambit late last month, in an effort to compel Senate Democrats to vote in favor of the reform bill. Rarely used in New York, Chapter 12 allows farmers to reorganize their debts. It is the only temporary chapter in the federal Bankruptcy Code. It was originally enacted in 1986, but has been regularly extended every time it expired. Chapter 12 just expired again at the end of December and Congress quickly introduced new legislation last month to extend it again. However, on January 28, 2004, the House voted 265-99 to combine the pending farm bankruptcy bill with the Senate version of the GOP bankruptcy reform legislation, and voted down House Democrat opposition to pass the farm bankruptcy legislation as a standalone bill. Thus, the Capital Hill Republicans are trying to utilize two tricky maneuvers in seeking to force Senate Democrats to accept their version of a bankruptcy bill by combining that legislation with a bipartisan bill offering bankruptcy help for farmers.

First of all, by including the Senate legislation in a House bill, the Republicans are seeking to bypass the Senate’s ability to vote on the bill, in effect sending it straight to a joint committee. Second, as there is unanimous bipartisan support for extending Chapter 12 to help farmers, the Republicans are pushing the Senate Democrats to avoid hurting the farmers, by agreeing to the Chapter 11 bill, which now conveniently includes the reform legislation.

However, there is a good chance that Senate Democrats will object to the Republican effort to move the combined legislation to conference without a Senate vote on the entire package. If the House-passed measure were to move to the Senate Floor, many Democrats would support amendments such as the controversial language by Senator Schumer to make disruptive abortion protesting fines nondischargeable, which is what sidelined the reform legislation in 2002. Nevertheless, if the Republicans get their way, we may see the reform legislation enacted rather quickly.

Practice Pointer: Prepare Your Clients for Possible Changes in the Law. As many clients procrastinate with finalizing their bankruptcy petition, bankruptcy attorneys should recommend to their clients that they quickly take advantage of the existing laws and play it safe, rather than chance difficulty with newer laws. Although an overhaul of the Bankruptcy Code should certainly have a phase-in period of several months before becoming effective, there have been times in the past when significant changes were made to the bankruptcy laws with very little advance notice. The prudent client seeking bankruptcy relief should not wait too long. I have all my clients sign a notice advising them that the laws may change.

About the Author. Long Island Bankruptcy Attorney Craig D. Robins, Esq., is a regular columnist for the Suffolk Lawyer, the official publication of the Suffolk County Bar Association in New York. This article appeared in the February 2004 issue of the Suffolk Lawyer. Mr. Robins is a bankruptcy lawyer who has represented thousands of consumer and business clients during the past twenty years. He has offices in Medford, Commack, Woodbury and Valley Stream. (516) 496-0800. For information about filing bankruptcy on Long Island, please visit his Bankruptcy web site: http://www.BankruptcyCanHelp.com.

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Craig D. Robins, Esq. is a Long Island bankruptcy lawyer, who is focused primarily on helping individuals and families, find solutions to their debt problems. Read more »


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Craig D. Robins, Esq.
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