Florida foreclosure streamlining closer to reality.

Fourteen Democrats joined 80 Republicans in the Florida House of Representatives on Wednesday to pass a bill aimed at streamlining the foreclosure process. The 94-17 bipartisan vote comes after two months of protests from a committed group of activists, many of them foreclosure defendants who say the bill limits their ability to defend their cases. For the bill to become law, the Senate must pass its version by the end of session, March 9. Supporters say the bill is necessary to put abandoned homes back on the market and to speed up home foreclosures, which take nearly two years on average to grind through the courts in Florida. They propose cutting the number of court hearings from two to one and allowing any lien holder, including homeowners’ associations, to initiate the process. It also outlines steps for determining if a house or condo unit is vacant, clearing the path for a lender to foreclose.