N.C. general assembly begins new session

May 13, 2008 2:53:12 PM PDT
From gas prices to the mortgage crisis, Eyewitness News wanted to find out what the legislature plans to do for the state of the economy.

On gas prices, both parties seem to agree the state should not do anything to bring immediate relief.

But on the home mortgage, there are ideas and some disagreements. And it looks like a foreclosure debate is likely coming.

About 19,000 homes are for sale --the most ever in the Triangle and more families are losing homes.

Wake County's foreclosure total so far this year is 400 percent higher than a decade ago.

"It's a tough time for folks out there. We need to be responsive, and we will be," House Speaker Joe Hackney said.

Democrats in the legislature are talking mortgage reform. Ideas include more regulation of mortgage brokers; money to help buy back foreclosed homes and more education for borrowers.

"Funds for greater counseling for people before they enter into some of these contracts," Wake County Represent Dan Blue said.

Republicans are reluctant to support regulation which might discourage future lending.

They say the answer for families struggling to meet home loan payments is to cut other taxes.

The republican nominee for governor, Pat McCrory, says the state should help the mortgage mess by protecting neighborhoods from foreclosed homes.

As the Mayor of Charlotte, McCrory says cities need less red tape to condemn blighted property.

"We've already torn down some houses that are only two or three years old, because it's better to have a vacant lot there than either vagrants or gangs using that house," Hackney said. "All of those ideas will be considered here. I can't tell you what will happen. But we're thinking about those people who are having a hard time. I can tell you that."

As for gasoline, North Carolina's gas tax is now 30 cents a gallon, fifteenth highest in the nation.

But neither republicans nor democrats are pushing for a gas tax-holiday.

Democrats say the money is needed to build roads, while republicans say the discount would fuel more demand, then lead to higher prices.


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