By: Javi Calderon
Florida Town going against the Grain of Payday LoanReform
It seems like since the American economy started struggling in 2007 we have experienced a rise in payday loan stores and an increased awareness in payday loan regulation and legislation.
Obviously, as the economy stumbled more and more Americans found themselves in need of quick cash to get by. Out of work, or saddled by debt and/or bad credit, high-risk borrowers started turning to alternative financial products like cash advances and car title loans to help meet their needs. Due to the late-2000s financial crisis banks started tightening their lending regulations, leaving millions of Americans nowhere else to turn for a loan.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, today over 46 million Americans currently live in poverty, the most since the Census started keeping track of that statistic.
More than half of the people who have fallen to poverty since the financial crisis began live south of the Mason-Dixon. Right or wrong, the states of the South also have the highest concentration of payday advance stores in the country.
While many on-lookers and critics chastise payday lending for preying on the poor, many of these borrowers have managed to keep their lights on and their dinner plates full thanks to a timely cash advance.
However, 17 states across the country – and DC – have chosen to limit payday loan interest rates to 32% APR, or prohibit the practice all together. In some states, like Texas, where the State government chose not to legislate payday lending, city governments have done so on their own.
In response to the state government’s weak stand on payday lending, the Dallas City Council passed an ordinance limiting interest rates, loan amount and store location for payday loans within city limits.
On the other hand, a Senator from Florida is sponsoring a bill that would increase the cost of obtaining a payday loan. Though he is sponsoring the bill, Senator Mike Bennett of Bradenton admits that he has not yet read it.
The bill does not propose any changes to interest rates, which are already lax in the State of Florida. Instead, the bill raises the ceiling for loans in the highest-taxed bracket.
Currently, loans up to $2,000 carry an interest rate of 30%. The interest rate drops as the amount of the loan increases. The bill also increases fees for writing a bad check and for being delinquent on payments.
If the bill passes, some borrowers will be paying more for the money they borrow. Is this intended as a deterrent for payday loan borrowers? Or is it a favor for two loan companies who donated to Bennett’s campaign?
Either way, the passing of the bill would be in sharp contrast to the gradual slide against payday lending that has been trending throughout the country.