News Not Dead Yet
posted by February 2 at 9:04 AMon
Rep. Steve Kirby (D-Tacoma) proudly announced the death yesterday of a bill that would cap payday loan interest rates at 36 percent (they now top out at about 400 percent APR). Kirby says he won’t give the bill a hearing in his insurance and finance committee, thus preventing it from reaching a vote in the house. Kirby instead put forward his alternative, a bill that would establish a payment plan for consumers who get into trouble with a payday loan. The plan can only be used once a year and closely resembles a similar option that is already in place.
Leaders of the coalition to cap payday loans say they haven’t given up. They will continue to press forward in the senate, where the bill has not yet been introduced.
Aaron Toso with Communities Against Payday Predators cited the growing public and political support for the cap. Organized labor added its heft to the list this week. “Thatís our hope,” Toso said, “that it just gets so big they canít close the door on it.”
A 2006 poll found that over 80 percent of Washingtonians would support a bill requiring payday lenders to “abide by the same consumer loan laws affecting banks and other lenders.”
It seems to me that the success of the cap will depend on whether the coalition can lean hard enough on Democratic legislative leaders to force their underlings to give the bill a chance. House Speaker Frank Chopp told the Tacoma News that the conversations would continue. But the reference was oblique. More to come if I can get up with some big Dems. A cap campaign in Oregon took two years of similarly desperate fighting. My home state’s cap goes into effect this summer.