Congress Actually Passed Consumer-Friendly Legislation In 2007

Members of Congress introduced 7,440 bills this year and almost none of them help consumers in any meaningful way. Less than fifteen bills this session snagged our editorial love. Most cleared only one chamber, and some still haven’t earned a hearing—but maybe when Congress returns they’ll lob a few of our favorites towards Pennsylvania Ave.

H.R. 3010: Arbitration Fairness Act of 2007
What It Does: Prevents corporations from shackling consumers with extra-judicial mandatory binding arbitration agreements.
Status: Hearings held in both the House and Senate.

H.R. 2881: The Passengers Bill Of Rights
What It Does: Prevents airlines from caging passengers on planes for hours at a stretch without access to food, water, and restrooms.
Status:Approved by the House as part of the FAA Reauthorization Act, 267-151-14. Currently simmering in the Senate.

H.R. 3610: Food and Drug Import Safety Act of 2007
What It Does: Strengthens the FDA by granting the power to issue mandatory recalls.
Status: Hearings held in the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

H.R. 3541: Do-Not-Call Improvement Act of 2007
What It Does: Makes Do Not Call List registrations permanent.
Status: Approved by the House. Floor debate pending in the Senate.

H.R. 1525: Internet Spyware (I-SPY) Prevention Act of 2007
What It Does: Subjects spyware makers to jail terms and multi-million dollar fines.
Status: Approved by the House, languishing in the Senate.

S. 2045: CPSC Reform Act of 2007
What It Does: Gives the CPSC the staff and support it needs to do a slightly less pitiful job.
Status: Passed by the Senate Commerce Committee. Companion legislation unanimously approved by the House.

S. 2033: Cell Phone Consumer Empowerment Act of 2007
What It Does: It’s the most impressive bill of the 110th Congress. It battles dragons and slays evildoers.
Status: Hearing held in the Senate Commerce Committee.

H.R. 4332: Financial Consumer Hotline Act of 2007
What It Does: Establishes a consumer hotline for banking complaints.
Status: Introduced, stuck in the House Financial Services Committee.

H.R. 3915: Mortgage Reform and Anti-Predatory Lending Act of 2007
What It Does: Attempts to prevent a recurrence of the subprime meltdown by tightening oversight of the mortgage industry.
Status: Approved by the House 297-127-14. The Senate Banking Committee is slow-mulling companion legislation.

H.R. 3678: Internet Tax Freedom Act Amendments Act of 2007
What It Does: Keeps the internet nice and tax-free until 2014.
Status: Signed by the President! Now known as Public Law No: 110-108.

H.R. 946: Consumer Overdraft Protection Fair Practices Act
What It Does: Caps overly-punitive debit card fees.
Status: Introduced, stuck in the House Financial Services Committee.

S. 704: Truth in Caller ID Act of 2007
What It Does: Bans caller ID spoofing.
Status: Approved by the House. Passed the Senate Commerce Committee.

H.R. 698: Industrial Bank Holding Company Act of 2007
What It Does: Bans Walmart from opening a bank.
Status: Approved by the House 371-16-45, dead in the Senate Banking Committee.

H.R. 2669: College Cost Reduction and Access Act
What It Does: Steals money from rich student loan companies and gives it to students.
Status: Signed by the President! Now known as Public Law No: 110-84.

Comments

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  1. humphrmi says:

    H.R. 2669: College Cost Reduction and Access Act

    Did this go through with all of it’s accoutrements? I.e. the 20 year limit on repayment?

  2. damitaimee says:

    i’m really surprised to read that the president signed into law the college cost reduction and access act.

    how un-republican of him to care for the citizens rather than the loan companies, unless of course the rich students are the recipients.

  3. karmaghost says:

    Wow, that cellphone bill (heh, “bill” instead of “legislature”) is pretty impressive. Really impressive, actually, which makes me think it’ll never make it. Or at least, if it does, it’ll be castrated.

  4. Electroqueen says:

    !#$#@!$!@#$@#!$#$
    All the ones I ACTUALLY care about are STILL either pending or languishing in the Senate. Thanks alot Congress.

  5. picantel says:

    The arbitration act is the most important of them all. In the last 7 years I have seen over 1000 people go to arbitration and only 1 person won. The company then turned around and ignored the award. Arbitration is 100% stacked against the consumer and denies consumers the right to a fair trial. The companies are the ones who pay the arbitration people to make judgments. Who do you think they are going to rule for then?

  6. redmanlaw says:

    @karmaghost: I get an impressive cell phone bill every month.@picantel: Did you know that the architects have developed a new form of the AIA A201 standard construction contract terms between owners, architects and contractors that drops the requirement from earlier versions that imposed mandatory arbitration on the parties? Arbitration was getting so like trial that they said screw it, let’s just default to litigation unless the parties choose another form of form of dispute resolution.

  7. Chaosium says:

    All this consumer protection legislation must really burn the Libertarians who think “reputation” and inborn “rational acting” should be enough to prevent monopolistic action and corporate abuse of private citizens.

  8. robdew2 says:

    Much of this legislation is only consumer friendly if you are the kind of consumer that doesn’t want to take any responsibility for your actions. Nanny-statism at its best.
    Several of these such as the Passengers Bill of Rights are only necessary because the markets are closed BY legislation already.
    Either that or you are the corporation who is the consumer, gaming the system under the guise of consumer protection.

  9. H.R. 2669: College Cost Reduction and Access Act
    What It Does: Steals money from rich student loan companies and gives it to students.

    Where’s my money?

    I still don’t see Network Neutrality up there… Guess I’ll have to wait another year and ride out Comcast’s bullshit for that one…

  10. howie_in_az says:

    @Electroqueen: They’re too busy not doing anything about iRaq to vote on these issues.

  11. Tracy Ham and Eggs says:

    Ok. For the last time consumerist. Prove that arbitration is bad for consumers or employees. The win rates for consumers who bring complaints against businesses are nearly identical to those that go to trial (around 60%)and at lower cost and with faster resolution time. The win rates for businesses who bring the complaint are, yes, over 75%, but they are even higher with trials, and tend to cost the consumer more.

    The ONLY party that is enriched by arbitration being eliminated are TRIAL LAWYERS. Now, I know Carey loves John Edwards, but trial lawyers impose serious cost to consumers and business. Half the legislation on this list is going to make it easier to bring suit against corporations. While that may appear to be a benefit to consumers, anyone who has ever received a $20 check from a class action while the lawyers receive millions in fees knows it is not. There is a reason first-year associates make 150k+ a year while other industries are cutting pay.

  12. kimsama says:

    @Tracy Ham and Eggs: I agree with part of your post, however, you’re mistaken if you think all first-year associates make $150K+. Associates sometimes make as little as $50K a year, depending on their specialty and the location. Also, not all law school grads become associates — some work for local legal council, nonprofits, etc. They may make more like $30K/year and then still have to pay off $100K school debt.

    Just sayin’ (I’m not a lawyer myself, but I know a few of the nonprofit variety). You’re thinking of the antitrust lawyers, who for sure make a lot, but probably make up a fraction of all lawyers.