A Great Bill From Representative Funk to Protect Student Borrowers

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I was awfully excited when Moffie Funk won her race for HD 82, because I knew she would be champion for people who are often overlooked by government. She’s already gotten a bill that will security protections against financial abuse through the House, a real challenge given the partisan split in that body, and is doing excellent work representing the values of her district.

It turns out she’s also a champion for people who have their livelihoods threatened by government, as her work on HB 363 demonstrates. It seems Montana has a terrible law on the books, one that allows the state to suspend any license, including a business license or drivers license, of anyone who has defaulted on her guaranteed student loans.

It’s a truly terrible law, and Representative Funk has worked hard to repeal it. Montana is one of only two states that permit the state to take away these license for student loan defaults, a power the Department of Justice argues gives it “indefinite suspension until student loan association notifies Motor Vehicle Division of compliance.”

The existing law is just an example of unnecessary and unwise cruelty. If a person falls behind on his student loan obligations, it might be difficult for the lender to recover its investment, although given the protections afforded these banks, it’s hard to feel sorry for them. And taking away a person’s ability to work in his chosen field or even drive himself to work will likely make collecting that money impossible. The truth is that the rapidly escalating cost of a college education is already making life incredibly difficult for many to receive student loans, and the existing law is an unnecessary cudgel that will only make poverty worse and stable employment less likely.

Representative Funk’s bill will receive a hearing in the Business and Labor Committee this Thursday at 8:30 a.m.

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About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is an eighteen-year teacher of English, former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.

His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.

In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.

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