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Bankruptcy bill at a glance

Highlights of bankruptcy law overhaul legislation passed Wednesday by the Senate:

+ Imposes a $100,000 federal cap on homestead exemptions, in an effort to prevent wealthy debtors from shielding their assets in luxury homes in bankruptcy proceedings. Most states limit the exemption to $40,000 or less. But Florida and Texas allow unlimited homestead exemptions, which debtors can use to keep their homes' value from being counted among their assets in bankruptcy proceedings.

+ Applies a new standard for determining whether people filing for bankruptcy should be forced to repay their debts under a court-approved reorganization plan rather than having them abrogated. If a debtor is found to have sufficient income to repay at least 25 percent of his or her debts over five years, a reorganization plan generally would be required.

+ Requires credit card companies to explain to customers in their monthly statements how long it would take to pay off balances if they made only the minimum required payments. Bill statements also would include a toll-free phone number for customers to get information on how long it would take them to pay off their balances.

+ When low-interest, introductory "teaser" rates on credit cards are used to lure new customers, they would have to be told when the higher rates will take effect and what they will be.

+ Gives highest priority among debts to child support payments, putting them ahead of credit card debt and other obligations.

+ Limits repeat bankruptcy filings.

+ Raises the hourly minimum wage to $6.15 over three years.

+ Provides for $18-billion in tax cuts over five years, mostly for small business owners.

+ Tightens penalties for selling illegal drugs to minors, narrows the disparity in sentences for sales of powder and crack cocaine, and stiffens penalties for makers of the illegal drug methamphetamine.

_ ASSOCIATED PRESS

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