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It’s No Vacation The political impetus for subprime legislation is fairly obvious: Several million people are at risk of losing their homes in part because of the mortgage industry’s previously loose lending practices. As one might expect, a flurry of bills in the House and Senate drew plenty of concern from mortgage lenders. It also rattled the timeshare industry. Over the last few months, the American Resort Development Association, the industry’s main advocate in Washington, has been lobbying on the matter, forming a “subprime working group” among its members. Also registering to lobby on the subject was Wyndham Worldwide, which hired McDermott Will & Emery. Why is the prepaid vacation industry concerned? Well, some of the options being kicked around to increase borrower protections would apply to all residential real estate transactions, imposing delays and cooling off periods on some timeshare sales. Given that the timeshare industry frequently woos clients over demo vacation weekends in which contracts are signed amidst all the fun, such restrictions could greatly dampen the industry’s marketing efforts. The threat may be receding: A leading subprime bill, the Home Ownership Preservation and Protection Act, by Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.), carves out an exemption for the industry. Sandra DuPoy, ARDA’s lead lobbyist, didn’t return calls last week, but Alan Schlaifer, a Bethesda, Md., attorney whose clients include timeshare companies, says the industry sales pitch was clear: Given that timeshares aren’t to blame for last year’s credit market collapse, the industry argued, it shouldn’t be penalized by Congress. “That was one of the points ARDA has been trying to make, that it’s throwing out the baby with the bath water,” Schlaifer says. “What we’ve seen thus far would have consequences going well beyond what’s intended to deal with primary homes.” — Jeff Horwitz
Toy Story After several years’ absence from Washington, the Toy Industry Association has returned for a fight over expanding the mandate of the Consumer Products Safety Commission, the federal agency charged with regulating and recalling potentially dangerous products. The TIA’s federal lobbyist, Peter Sandel, is a former aide to Rep. Henry Bonilla (R-Texas) and former lobbyist at the Financial Services Roundtable. But the TIA won’t be the only advocate for toy makers on the national level. Mattel spent $540,000 last year on in-house lobbyist Corinne Murat and two outside firms last year, and Hasbro, meanwhile, hired the Duberstein Group in October. The industry could use the extra help. Though the TIA supported a December House bill that boosted funding for the CPSC, a Senate version last week would make the CPSC considerably tougher on manufacturers. And big fights are under way in state capitals, where the state Public Interest Research Group system and other nonprofits are pushing for anti-toxin legislation beyond federal standards. For the TIA, that means all hands on deck. “Maryland just passed a lead bill, there’s activity in Washington state, Connecticut, Illinois, Minnesota, Vermont. … Did I already say Maine?” Sandel says. — Jeff Horwitz
Neigh The American Quarter Horse Association decided to stop lobbying last year, after the last domestic slaughterhouse closed its doors. But the issue hasn’t died. A bill by Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) would ban the transport of horses to slaughter operations in other countries. The bill passed the House, but hasn’t won approval in the Senate despite 38 co-sponsors. The National Horse Protection League wants to change that. The group — which says it’s “Internet-based” and run by horse-lovers — has taken out two full-page ads in The New York Times, encouraging people to call their representatives and voice support for the bill. Bill Hamilton of Fenton Communications, a spokesperson for the nonprofit group, says “a person who feels passionately” about the issue paid for the high-profile ads, which have drawn phone calls and some checks, but the person doesn’t want their identity made public. The group doesn’t disclose its members, but Fenton says they’re horse lovers. — Carrie Levine

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