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Media Memo: Campus Expert on Bankruptcy Legislation

TO: News/Assignment Editors

FROM: Judy Berthiaume, director, UW-Eau Claire News Bureau

DATE: April 19, 2005

SUBJECT: Campus Expert on Bankruptcy Legislation

An Eau Claire attorney who teaches business law at UW-Eau Claire is available to talk with the media about legislation that will significantly change bankruptcy laws.

Erwin Steiner has practiced law for more than 30 years. His law firm, Steiner & Wright SC Law Offices, handles a number of bankruptcies, and Steiner has lectured on bankruptcy law at continuing legal education seminars in several states, including Wisconsin. At UW-Eau Claire, he teaches business law, including a section on bankruptcy.

If President Bush signs the legislation, which received its final congressional approval last week, it will be the biggest rewrite of bankruptcy code in a quarter-century. The bill will take effect six months after it's signed by the President, who has said he supports it.

The revisions will require people with incomes above identified levels to pay credit card charges, medical bills and other obligations as outlined by a court-ordered plan.

Opponents have said the changes would mostly impact low-income working people, particularly single mothers, the elderly, minorities and people who have lost their jobs or incurred significant medical expenses. Supporters say it will curb abuses by gamblers, deadbeat parents and others who don't want to pay their bills.

The American Bankruptcy Institute estimates that between 30,000 and 210,000 people who dissolve their debts in bankruptcy each year will be unable to do so under the new legislation.

You can reach Erwin Steiner at (715) 836-3677 or (715) 832-2040.

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