Pressure Builds For Veto of Interest Rate Hike Bill

loanshark2The Denver Post’s Joey Bunch reports on growing controversy over House Bill 15-1390, legislation passed at the very end of this year’s legislative session with almost no debate to allow subprime lenders to dramatically increase interest rates on certain personal loan products:

Gov. John Hickenlooper has three official requests on his desk to veto House Bill 1390, legislation that adjusts the cap on subprime loans allowing 36 percent on a $3,000 loan.

The bill was introduced near the end of the session and sailed through. Groups that oppose it say they didn’t have time to make their case and want a veto in order to give the proposal more debate next year…

“In a legislative session that was supposed to be about the middle class, this bill moves Colorado in the wrong direction,” states the joint veto request from The Bell Policy Center, ProgressNow Colorado, the Colorado Center on Law & Policy and the Colorado Progressive Coalition.

“We wish this bill had come up earlier in the session to allow more time for conversations with legislators and a greater opportunity for the views of average Coloradans to be heard. Your veto of HB15-1390 will help protect low- to moderate-income Coloradans from detrimental credit products. The Legislature can address this issue again next session in a manner that ensures all viewpoints are heard and more measured deliberations take place.”

More from the Colorado Statesman’s Vic Vela:

“We are not opposed to the loans, just to increasing the current rates so significantly,” the letter reads.

Danny Katz of the Colorado Public Interest Research Group said the bill benefits those that don’t need help — financial institutions.

“This bill simply takes money from Colorado family pockets and sends it to Wall Street and out-of-state investors,” Katz said. “That’s not how Colorado should do business or treat its families.”

Read more coverage of House Bill 15-1390 in the Durango Herald and Colorado Public Radio. To the dismay of lobbyists and complicit lawmakers, the word is definitely getting out.

Sen. Cheri Jahn (D).

Sen. Cheri Jahn (D).

As we’ve discussed in this space, the whole purpose of introducing this legislation at the last possible moment in this year’s legislative session was to limit the public’s knowledge of what was happening. Now that the press is covering it, it looks very bad–and Democratic legislators who sponsored this late bill are being forced to defend their actions. That’s not going real well, as Vela continues:

“These people have nowhere to go to get a loan,” said Sen. Cheri Jahn, D-Wheat Ridge, who helped sponsor the legislation in the Senate…

“They’re trying to associate it to payday lending and it’s not,” Jahn said. “These financial institutions are willing to give loans to people with bad credit, who are trying to rebuild credit. So the interest rate is higher, but not as high as payday lending.

“These groups that come out opposing this, always say, ‘You’re taking advantage of poor people.’ No, not really. They have nowhere else to go.”

Got that? Consumers have “nowhere else to go,” so let’s jack up their interest rates! Makes perfect sense if you’re the one lending the money. Those consumers aren’t likely to be so happy about it, however.

Democratic supporters like Sen. Cheri Jahn and the bill’s House sponsor Rep. Jovan Melton argue that the number and total dollar amounts for this type of loan have shrunk in Colorado since 2005. That’s a disingenuous argument, though, since in 2005 subprime credit was incredibly easy to obtain–so much so that subprime debt nearly sank the entire U.S. economy just a couple of years later. Back in reality, as the New York Times reported in detail last fall, subprime personal loans–and the companies booking them–are doing just fine in today’s recovering economy.

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Get More Smarter on Thursday (May 14)

Today’s forecast calls for possible sightings of the sun. It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example).

 

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Congressman Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) joined fellow Republicans in voting to approve a 20-week abortion ban. Colorado Springs Republican Rep. Doug Lamborn is one of the primary sponsors of the legislation.

► The Senate passed a measure yesterday to move forward on votes for President Obama’s trade deal. From the Huffington Post:

“The announcement [Wednesday] will drive home the importance of the message that the pro-trade Democrats sent yesterday,” said Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), who helped craft the compromise after he helped filibuster the trade bill that he supports. “That enforcement, enforcement of the trade laws is a prerequisite to a modern trade policy, a trade policy that sets aside once and for all the NAFTA playbook. Suffice it to say that was the message conveyed yesterday by pro-trade Democrats.”

► Colorado Senators Michael Bennet (D-Denver) and Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) offered joint support for medical marijuana legislation. As Mark Matthews of the Denver Post reports:

The proposed Therapeutic Hemp Medical Access Act would lift federal prohibitions across the country on using marijuana strains that are medically beneficial to prevent certain seizures.

Gardner, a Republican, and Bennet, a Democrat, announced the bill with Democratic Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley of Oregon and Republican Sens. Orrin Hatch of Utah and Johnny Isakson of Georgia at the Capitol in Washington on Wednesday.

Because of federal prohibitions, some families who are seeking the help are forced to relocate to such states as Colorado, where they can obtain the medicine, the lawmakers argue.

What, no cool acronym for this bill? The THMAA?


Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Walker Stapleton Shows (Again) Why He’ll Never Make it to Higher Office

dealinwalkerfin

This is State Treasurer Walker Stapleton, Colorado’s “gold standard” when it comes to the stereotypical, fast-talking, bullshitting politician. Stapleton has made such a caricature of himself over the last couple of years that it he hardly seems real. Surely, you think, nobody can truly be this transparently smarmy and exist as an actual human politician…or can he?

The State Treasurer doesn’t traditionally generally get a lot of press in Colorado, and Stapleton has been no exception to the norm. But when Stapleton’s name does end up in the news, the odds are pretty good that it’s because he did something stupid. Stapleton is good at stupid.

It seems that Stapleton is back to one of his favorite tricks — lying through his teeth to cover a dumb mistake — and this time he even managed to piss off the reliably-Republican Denver Post editorial page editor Vince Carroll, which is no small feat. Yesterday Carroll dedicated an entire column to Stapleton, who he says has “migrated into incoherence” in trying to pretend that he ever supported legislation that would have made some changes to PERA:

Stapleton knows he authored an April 28 letter to legislative leaders in which he said “the Treasurer’s office has identified an opportunity to refinance a portion of the State’s debt owed to the Public Employees’ Retirement Association (PERA) through the issuance of Pension Obligation Bonds (POBs)…

…He also knows he testified in favor of HB 1388 before the House Finance Committee on April 29 (and again later before Senate Finance), at which he carefully laid out risks but also confirmed that POBs are “one of many tools, if the proper guard rails are in place, that can be employed responsibly to address PERA’s unfunded liability.”…

Our editorial page opposed HB 1388, but it is no disgrace to have been on the other side. And if some in your party get on your case about your stance, so what? You take the heat. You don’t distort your role to the point you sound like someone needing treatment for amnesia.

The entire column is worth a read, and it really makes you wonder (again) why anyone in the Republican Party might think that Stapleton could be a good candidate for Governor or U.S. Senate some day. Why would you make such an effort to lie about supporting a bill that few people understand? Why would you try to lie when you are already repeatedly on record taking a different position? Why???

Stapleton is pretty good at fundraising, largely because of his family connections (he’s directly related to the Bush family), but he’s otherwise a complete political dunce who frequently stumbles into obvious potholes. Stapleton was re-elected as State Treasurer in 2014, but it was an unexpectedly close race due entirely to his own idiocy; when an open records request revealed that Stapleton rarely bothered to show up at his office, he made ridiculous excuses and then wouldn’t stop talking about it.

We wrote after the November election that Stapleton’s panicky errors and laughable TV ads should remove his name from future discussion about higher office; since then, Stapleton has done nothing to prove us wrong. Democrats can only hope that Stapleton is someday the Republican nominee for Governor or Senate.

Jeffco School Board’s Attack On Its Own Teachers Halted

Ken Witt, Julie Williams, and John Newkirk

Ken Witt, Julie Williams, and John Newkirk

More bad press for the controversial Jefferson County school board’s conservative majority, as the Denver Post’s Anthony Cotton reports:

Jefferson County District Court issued a temporary injunction Tuesday preventing Jefferson County Public Schools from implementing a pay plan the union complained was being imposed without required negotiations.

The plan would have provided higher base salaries for newly hired teachers. The temporary injunction granted Tuesday prevents the school district from using the new pay scale on any new teachers hired on or after May 1.

“Today is a victory for hard working Jeffco teachers who have sacrificed our own pay through pay freezes and reductions to help the school district weather the recession,” Jefferson County Education Association president John Ford said in a statement. “To offer thousands of dollars more to new teachers while neglecting to honor your promises to your current teaching staff is inexcusable.”

The board majority’s proposal to pay newly hired teachers more than some current teachers was broadly seen as a gratuitous attack on current Jeffco educators who don’t like the new direction of the district. This injunction, while it’s determined whether the new pay plan was implemented without required negotiations with the Jefferson County Education Association, is a setback for what conservative activists have admitted is a deliberate strategy to “break” the teacher’s union–as was done in neighboring Douglas County after a similar conservative takeover of the school board with dubious results.

This will make it a little harder for the board’s many surrogates to demonize the teachers going forward. Teacher pay negotiations are perhaps the one arena where conservatives have a natural advantage with the low-information public–and this kind of bad faith is how you blow that.

Get More Smarter on Wednesday (May 13)

It looks like the beginning of the end of Tulo’s time with the Rockies. It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example).

 

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) remains in full freak-out mode over the potential CD-6 candidacy of Democrat Morgan Carroll. As Sen. Carroll noted on her Facebook page, a “tracker” was at the airport to meet her on a recent visit to Washington D.C. — you know, in case she decided to give an impromptu policy speech in front of the restrooms.

► Senator Michael Bennet (D-Denver) helped block a trade proposal yesterday. Mark Matthews of the Denver Post has been following the debate:

The issue has divided Democrats in recent months, with Obama lobbying for passage and fellow party members, including Minority Leader , angling to stop it. Traditional Democratic allies, including unions and environmentalists, also have called on Congress to kill the so-called “fast track” legislation because of fears of pollution and lost jobs.

At its core, the fast-track measure would empower Obama to negotiate trade deals with foreign governments and afterward send the proposal to Congress for a simple yes-or-no vote. That authority is considered crucial for the passage of complicated deals because it prevents Congress from debating to death these trade agreements.

► Meanwhile, national pundits continue to list Colorado as among the Top 10 hottest Senate races in 2016…though it’s starting to look pretty rote. Colorado is really only on the list because you need more than 9 states to make a Top 10. 


Get even more smarter after the jump…

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National GOP Panic Over Morgan Carroll Continues

carrolltracked

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Senate Minority Leader Morgan Carroll.

Senate Minority Leader Morgan Carroll.

As Colorado Senate Minority Leader Morgan Carroll continues to assess the possibility of a run for Rep. Mike Coffman’s CD-6 seat in 2016, the National Republican Congressional Committee has responded with an over-the-top fusillade of pre-emptive attacks on Carroll. Their shrill reaction to the mere possibility of Carroll entering the CD-6 race betrays obvious fear that she could take the seat, whether or not Coffman remains to defend it.

In addition to being the target of eager video “trackers” during her recent trip to Washington, D.C., the NRCC sent out another press release attacking Carroll today that barely conceals their growing fear:

“Ultra-liberal” Morgan Carroll is at it again, this time going out of her way to soften language condemning Iran for sponsoring terrorism…

Remember, this is the same Iran whose supreme leader joined an angry mob in chanting “death to America” just weeks ago and is angling to obtain a nuclear weapon.

With Iran’s well-documented hostility towards America and her allies, why does Morgan Carroll go out of her way to soften language condemning Iran’s role in sponsoring terrorism?

NRCC Comment: “Ultra-liberal Morgan Carroll went out of her way to soften language condemning Iran for being a state-sponsor of terrorism, despite Iran’s continued aggression and pursuit of a nuclear weapon. Carroll won’t be taken seriously as a candidate for federal office if she continues to trip over herself on national security issues that will be a key factor in 2016.”

This nutty release is in reference to a story from the Colorado Statesman today regarding a state senate resolution condemning Iran–mentioned as part of a longer story about Iran policy in general. But reporter Ernest Luning’s actual story bears little resemblance to the NRCC’s version of events:

As originally proposed, Senate Joint Memorial 15-002 called Iran a “theocratic dictatorship” dedicated to a “permanent war against Western democratic institutions and values.” It also included a reminder that Iran has been named a state sponsor of terrorism.

Senate Minority Leader Morgan Carroll, D-Aurora, argued for blunting the legislation’s language, calling the initial draft a “high-stakes, provocative claim” that waded into Middle-Eastern politics in a way that could undermine national security. The Senate approved Carroll’s rewritten statement by a 34-0 vote. [Pols emphasis] (State Sen. Linda Newell, D-Littleton, voted “present” after asserting that the Legislature didn’t have any business conducting foreign policy.)

If anything, we’re inclined to agree with Sen. Linda Newell that the Colorado General Assembly has no need or business issuing these meaningless foreign policy statements. We’ve felt this way for many years. With that said, the fact that every Republican Colorado Senator voted to approve Morgan Carroll’s “coddling of Iran,” for what looks like very good reasons, makes the NRCC look…well, ridiculous.

More than a little bit panicked too, folks. And that is the real story here.

Wednesday Open Thread

‘Tis not enough your counsel still be true;
Blunt truths more mischief than nice falsehoods do.

–Alexander Pope

Who Is Lisa Pinto? Jeffco Parents Might Not Like The Answer

nopinto3Lisa Pinto’s resume, marked “NO” by a Jeffco employee involved in the search process.

Former Colorado GOP chairman Ryan Call, Jefferson County Communications Officer Lisa Pinto.

Former Colorado GOP chairman Ryan Call, Jefferson County Communications Officer Lisa Pinto.

Since being hired last January, Republican media consultant Lisa Pinto has been the point person for the unenviable task of messaging the controversial actions of the Jefferson County Board of Education’s conservative majority. Pinto, a former official with ousted GOP state chairman Ryan Call’s much-balleyhooed “SuperPAC” along with another GOP media type who pled guilty to campaign finance violations earlier this year, has worked to smooth over ongoing embarrassments from far-right board member Julie Williams, and brought in conservative media relations firm Novitas Communications to help improve the district’s rapidly deteriorating image.

Last January, local blogger Paula Reed wrote in detail about Pinto’s hiring, including the conclusion by members of the interview committee that Pinto was unqualified for the job of communications director for Jefferson County Public Schools. Yesterday, some of the correspondence related to this hiring process appeared on our desk–and while we’re protecting identities involved with redactions, it’s clear that Pinto had some serious issues going into her interview.

nopinto1

These handwritten notes from a Jeffco Schools employee describe Pinto as “lacking deeper experience in PR,” “guarded” and “political” and given to “lawyer speak,” with “no current experience,” “not great media contacts,” no recent on-camera experience, and (critically for this job) “no K-12 experience.” Another email strongly recommends against hiring and possibly even conducting further interviews with her, based on discrepancies in her resume:

nopinto2

Not a very auspicious review. Here’s a little more detail:

nopinto4

We’ve done some Googling as well, and we haven’t found anything close to 200 media appearances by Lisa Pinto in any capacity. Now, that’s not to say that Pinto has no on-camera experience. One of the few media appearances we were able to find with her was an episode of Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher from 2002–certainly a high-profile appearance, albeit nearly fifteen years old. But there’s a problem: appearing as a Republican-leaning pundit, this clip of Pinto being smacked down by Maher and William Shatner isn’t one that would encourage us to hire her to speak for a school district:

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In Colorado, Every Legislator’s Email Is “Emailgate”

Senate President Bill Cadman (R).

Senate President Bill Cadman (R).

9NEWS’ Jeremy Jojola reports on something you might not know, but has actually been uncontroversial standard operating procedure at the Colorado General Assembly for years:

A 9Wants to Know review of email use among public officials reveals all 100 members of the Colorado General Assembly use private accounts to conduct state business.

The policy and practice has been in place for many years, giving each individual lawmaker full control of what emails will be released when their emails become the subject of records requests under the Colorado Open Records Act…

9Wants to Know found the “state.co.us” address used by some legislators is not an actual email account, but a way for the state to re-direct all incoming emails to a private account, like Gmail or AOL.

As 9NEWS reports, the forwarding-address email system for state legislators, delivering messages to any number of private email systems, differs from other government bodies (9NEWS cites the city of Aurora as an example) with much more stringent email retention policies–and control of the email servers by an impartial public employee, whose job it is to respond to Colorado Open Records Act (CORA) requests. An email server managed by government IT staff could be configured to automatically retain copies of all emails sent and received for an appropriate length of time, and help assure that requests for open records are honestly handled.

But–surprise!–we have bipartisan consensus in the General Assembly that there’s nothing to see here.

[House Speaker Dickey Lee] Hullinghorst and [Senate President Bill] Cadman stood by the current policy, claiming it’s been working and that they can be trusted to turn over all releasable emails under the Colorado Open Records Act – even messages that may be controversial. [Pols emphasis]

“We’ve had a system in Colorado that’s worked for us for a very long time,” Hullinghorst said. “Yes, I hand it all over.”

“We’ve been CORA’d, and have provided everything that has been asked of us,” Cadman said.

It’s not like anyone would admit otherwise, right? The point is, you don’t really know. Under the present arrangement, at a certain level we just have to trust them.

Hillary Clinton.

Hillary Clinton.

Now, we’re pretty sure that Bill Cadman follows the national news, more specifically FOX News, and is therefore aware in great detail that fellow Republicans are trying desperately to gin up a scandal over exactly this sort of arrangement–a public official using a private email server with no formalized records retention policy. So, either Cadman just exonerated Hillary Clinton from the “Emailgate” controversy that the GOP is milking for all it’s worth, or…

On second thought, how much would a state-owned server for legislative emails cost again? Because that would probably be the best way for Cadman to save face. That, or Hillary Clinton appreciates Bill Cadman’s vote of confidence!

Have fun explaining this one at the next ALEC happy hour.

Get More Smarter on Tuesday (May 12)

Add this to the list of reasons why we like basketball: You can’t possibly play the game with a deflated ball. It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example).

 

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Senator Michael Bennet (D-Denver) is smack in the middle of trade deal discussions, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), that will shift into higher gear today in the Senate. As Mark Matthews of the Denver Post reports:

It’s not exactly a political vise, but with a major trade deal looming, U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet is feeling pressure from both President Barack Obama, who wants it, and liberal allies, who want nothing more than to kill it.

How the Colorado Democrat navigates the debate — expected to begin Tuesday — could have long-range implications for his political future and a trade agreement among the U.S. and 11 Pacific Rim countries.

Central to the fight is a legislative package that would give Obama more authority to negotiate trade deals. He and many Republican lawmakers support the plan, but it faces opposition from Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid and other Democrats.

► State Sen. Ellen Roberts tried floating her name for the U.S. Senate (or CD-3) in an interview with the Durango Herald, and she didn’t do very well. Next time, Sen. Roberts, you might want to avoid calling your own interest in higher office “a long shot.” Tom Brady couldn’t have done a better job deflating this trial balloon.

Edgar Antillon, the restauranteur and promoter of the since-cancelled “White Appreciation Day” tells Jason Salzman that he is no longer a Republican. But he’s also not a Democrat. Antillon is, however, registered as a Republican candidate for the State House in HD-32. So, um, whatever.


Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Ellen Roberts Floats Her Name for U.S. Senate or CD-3

Sen. Ellen Roberts (R-Durango).

Sen. Ellen Roberts (R-Durango).

As Peter Marcus reports today for The Durango Herald, state Sen. Ellen Roberts (R-Durango) is hoisting up a trial balloon for a potential new job in 2016 — be it for the U.S. Senate or in CD-3:

Roberts spoke to The Durango Herald on Friday, two days after the legislative session ended. She said she has time now to consider the massive 2016 undertaking.

“I recognize it would be a long-shot,” Roberts said. “But to be in the U.S. Senate, that would be something that I am in the process of thinking about.”…

…One rumor that has been circulating is that U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Cortez, is considering a run for U.S. Senate. In that case, Roberts also could vie for that 3rd Congressional District seat. But Roberts said she is less interested in that seat, and a spokesman for Tipton said, “Congressman Tipton is very happy to be serving Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District and I don’t see that changing anytime soon.”

We’ve heard Sen. Roberts’ name mentioned for higher office here and there, though we’d agree with Roberts herself that a U.S. Senate run “would be a long-shot.” As Peter Marcus noted in the Herald, Roberts is coming off a particularly tough legislative session that saw her take several difficult votes sprinkled in with some eyebrow-raising statements (including her off-the-reservation admission that SB-268 was, indeed, a bill about creating Personhood).

Congressman Scott Tipton was floating his own name for U.S. Senate back in January, though a spokesman was intentionally vague in responding to Marcus for this story. Running a campaign for Congress in CD-3 would seem more logical for Roberts, if Tipton did indeed decide to take a shot at Democrat Michael Bennet in 2016. Roberts has not had to run a serious campaign herself since winning election to the State House in 2006, and the Colorado Republican Party is a lot different today than it was 10 years ago. Unless Republicans were to completely stand down for Roberts, we don’t see how she’d ever make it out of a Primary; even if she did, Roberts would be forced to move so far to the right that she’d never be able to get back to the middle before a General Election.

Roberts also would need to overcome the political detriments of being relatively isolated in Durango. She has no name recognition along the Front Range, and Roberts has not built up any sort of donor base that could jump start an undertaking as ambitious as running for U.S. Senate. Any Republican candidate in 2016 will be compared to Sen. Cory Gardner in some respect; it is important to remember that Gardner had been carefully cultivating a broad base of Republican support for years prior to his sudden entry into the 2014 Senate race last February.

If nothing else, today’s news from Roberts should prod the likes of state Sen. Owen Hill (who also ran for U.S. Senate in 2014) to get moving, and it will probably shake loose a few more potential Republican names for 2016.

Political Nerd Christmas: Colo. Abstract of Votes Cast Now Online

Where can we find one of those bowties?

Where can we find one of those bowties?

Attention all political nerds/junkies: The Colorado Secretary of State’s office announced today that the Colorado 2013-2014 Abstract of Votes Cast is now available online. From an email announcement:

The Colorado 2013-2014 Abstract of Votes Cast is now available on our Department website. The report contains the official certified results for the 2013 coordinated, 2014 primary, and 2014 general elections for all candidates, judicial retention races, and ballot issues certified by the Secretary of State’s office.

In addition to election results, the abstract includes a directory of county, state, and federal office holders and turnout statistics by county for each race. The information in the biennial Abstract of Votes Cast is compiled from results submitted by Colorado’s 64 county clerk and recorders.

In 2014 more than 2 million Colorado voters made their voices heard and once again made Colorado a national leader in voter turnout. I hope you find the information in this report both useful and informative.

Wayne W. Williams
Secretary of State

We use the term “political nerds” affectionately here at Colorado Pols. We’re all excited about this, too!

Groups Ask Hickenlooper To Veto Interest Rate Hike Bill

380_image_loanshark_8662Here’s an excerpt from a letter sent by several consumer advocacy groups including the Bell Policy Center, the Colorado Center for Law and Policy, and the Colorado Progressive Coalition to Gov. John Hickenlooper, requesting a veto of House Bill 15-1390last-minute legislation that shot through the General Assembly at the closing bell allowing lenders to dramatically jack up interest rates on specific types of personal loans:

We respectfully ask you to veto the Allowable Finance Charge for Certain Consumer Credit Transactions bill (HB15-1390). This bill, which was introduced in the final few days of session and did not get a full vetting in the Legislature, would raise the cost of credit for moderate- and low-income Coloradans on certain consumer credit transactions. Raising these caps would lead to more high-cost and unaffordable credit products, hurting Colorado consumers and middle-class families. We are not opposed to the loans, just to increasing the current rates so significantly.

The Colorado Attorney General’s Office, which regulates these loans, testified in the House about how HB15-1390 would affect these loans. While neutral on the bill, the office said that it would increase the costs of an average $6,000 loan by 38.1 percent. The Attorney General’s Office also said there is nothing to indicate that this credit product is not available to consumers or that consumers are having a hard time accessing this product.

In a legislative session that was supposed to be about the middle class, this bill moves Colorado in the wrong direction. We wish this bill had come up earlier in the session to allow more time for conversations with legislators and a greater opportunity for the views of average Coloradans to be heard. Your veto of HB15-1390 will help protect low- to moderate-income Coloradans from detrimental credit products. The Legislature can address this issue again next session in a manner that ensures all viewpoints are heard and more measured deliberations take place.

As we discussed last week, House Bill 15-1390 passed through the General Assembly at lightning speed with almost no debate. Consumer group opponents like the Bell Policy Center had no opportunity to mount an opposition to the bill. In subsequent days, we’ve heard that lobbyists for the lenders who would benefit from higher interest rates facilitated the late introduction of the bill, and paraded lenders through the legislature in the final days who essentially threatened to close up shop if they couldn’t increase interest rates–this despite the fact that tens of thousands of these loans worth hundreds of millions of dollars were made under the current rates last year. This threat, which sounds remarkably like the hollow arguments against payday lending reform a few years ago, evidently persuaded all but two members of the House to pass the bill. In the Senate, after opponents had the chance to get their feet under them, most Democrats voted against the bill--a telling difference.

1390senatevote

From all accounts we’ve heard, Gov. John Hickenlooper’s office was not part of whatever dubious greasing of the wheels occurred here, and his signature is by no means assured. Over the coming days, we expect Hickenlooper to hear from both sides, but ultimately we think there is enough backlash forming against both the bill and the shady process by which it was introduced and passed to make a veto an easy decision.

And after that, we hope for a frank conversation within the Democratic House caucus–about how sticking it to subprime borrowers in the closing hours of the legislative session is not how you “protect working families.”