By: Javi Calderon
Battle Lines Drawn for Missouri Payday Loan Initiative
Groups on either side of the payday loan debate in Missouri have started collecting funds and signatures to argue their case for or against a proposed 36% APR cap.
An alliance of religious groups, along with the Center for Responsible Lending, are petitioning to get the measure on the 2012 state ballot. So far, they have raised around $50,000 for their cause.
A nonprofit organization known as Missourians for Responsible Government are opposing the measure and have contributed over $600,000 to block the ballot initiative. Since they are a nonprofit organization they are not required to disclose where the donations came from.
Some of the funds have gone to the two law firms that are building the case to fight the initiative.
Though they are heavily out-funded, representatives in favor of the APR cap on payday loans are not discouraged, steadfast in their belief that the help of faith-based organizations will garner enough support to get the measure on the ballot.
In order to get the measure on the ballot the group will need 90,000 signatures from six of the nine congressional districts in the state. So far, 35 congregations in the Saint Louis area have pledged to help collect signatures.
A spokesperson for Metro Congregations United, a group infavor of the measure, says they got involved because various concerned pastors approached them. If the pastors are involved it is very likely their congregations will follow.
Last year Missouri was home to over 1,000 cash advance lenders who handed out over 2.4 million payday advance loans.
Current Missouri laws allow short-term loans to be rolled over six times, though the average loan is only rolled over 1.6 times.
Supporters for the measure are looking to take their petition to the voters after various attempts at reform in the State Legislature.They may, once again, end up disappointed, as only six of a combined 72 petitions made it to the ballot in 2008 and 2010.