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Two legislative bills that could force major changes in credit card industry practices sooner than previously expected face committee votes next week, reports American Banker, a CardLine sister publication. The Senate Banking Committee could vote as early as Tuesday on a sweeping bill sponsored by Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd, D-Conn. Another bill Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., is sponsoring tentatively is scheduled for a vote next week by a House Financial Services subcommittee. Both bills would go further than new card-industry regulations finalized last year by the Federal Reserve Board and other regulators that would define such common practices as double-cycle billing and universal default as unfair or deceptive. The Fed's rules go into effect on July 1, 2010. Dodd's bill, the Credit Card Accountability and Disclosure Act of 2009, would go into effect immediately if passed and signed into law. Of the two bills, Dodd's goes the furthest and would require borrowers younger than 21 to take a credit-counseling course or have a parent co-sign before being approved for a credit card loan. It also would ban issuers from charging interest on fees, prohibit fees to pay bills and restrict over-the-limit charges. Maloney's bill, the Credit Cardholders' Bill of Rights Act of 2009, would go into effect 90 days after signing. Sandra Braunstein, director of the Fed's division of consumer and community affairs, said at a hearing last week before a House Committee on Financial Services subcommittee that it would be practically impossible for card issuers to update their systems to comply with the Fed's rules in less than 18 months. Some observers say Dodd appears to have many lawmakers' support for his bill. "Given the climate of today, you are not bringing anything for a vote that you don't already know is ready to go," says Joseph Mason, a professor at Louisiana State University. "I see no reason right now why this shouldn't go forward, and I think it actually would provide a good rallying point for Senate Banking–something they could actually agree upon, which is at a premium right now."

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