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UPDATE: Sources say unequivocally that the amendment yesterday to remove the referred measure component of the bill has the full support of proponents, and Rep. Lois Court is now a “yes” vote on payday lending reform. More to come.
We’re a little less jubilant this morning about yesterday’s passage by the House Judiciary Committee of House Bill 1351, the bill to cap interest rates charged by the usurious payday lending industry at the same percentage other lenders doing business in Colorado are allowed, as amended. The Denver Post reports:
In a hearing room at the Capitol packed with hundreds of payday lenders and their employees – along with a smaller contingent of bill supporters that included clergy and advocates for the poor – the House Judiciary Committee heard passionate arguments from both sides.
The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Mark Ferrandino, D-Denver, said payday loans are not helping borrowers, whom he said too frequently fall into a spiral of loan rollovers and endless debt.
“It isn’t access to credit, it’s access to debt,” Ferrandino said.
Proponents of the bill included a number of borrowers, who said they started out with small loans to help pay bills and then found they could never repay the principal and fees charged.
Kasie Oliver, a woman from Lakewood caring for three grandchildren, said she took out a payday loan and could not pay it back, finding herself turning to food banks to feed her family.
“I thought I would take this loan and get caught up but I didn’t,” Oliver said. “I just got more and more in debt.”
…Republicans said the bill would throw thousands of payday loan store employees out of work.
The committee eliminated a section of the bill that would have sent the issue to voters, [Pols emphasis] and then passed it to the full House on a 7-4 party-line vote.
As years of payday lending spam has vested a personal interest in reform with your hosts, we’re somewhat concerned to see that the referred measure component of the bill was stripped out–as we’ve discussed before, the decision was made to refer payday lending reform to the voters in the hope that removing the finality from wavering legislators’ votes would make it possible for more to vote yes. Moreover the amendment in question was moved by Rep. Lois Court, who has been previously flagged as an opponent of payday lending reform–which invites suspicion. On the other hand, Rep. Court has longstanding and well known objections to the fault-ridden ballot measure process in Colorado (an opinion widely shared), so it’s certainly possible that she was simply making the bill more palatable to herself and others who may agree.
Or, it could be that much easier to kill now. We sincerely hope that was not the intention here, but we’ll be watching closely as the bill moves to the House floor. And our highly reliable gut instinct strongly recommends amending it back–a poll follows.