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Payday loan reform heats up

April 19, 2006 - Salem, Oregon

So-called predatory lending is the key issue for an Oregon Senate Committee today (Thursday). It's considering whether the issue of payday loan reform should be tackled during next week's special session. That issue had Senate support last time around, but never made it to the House floor. Comments from Representative Jeff Merkley (D-Portland). The payday loan industry is under fire in Oregon. Three cities have already passed regulations on industry. Today (Thursday) an Oregon Senate committee is holding a hearing to considering tackling the issue during the special session-including capping triple digit interest rates. Similar reform had the support of the Senate and the Governor last session, but it never made it to the House floor. Representative Jeff Merkley says he hopes it will this time because it's important to the health of Oregon communities.

"Because interest rates of 500% are sucking families into a financial vortex that they can't escape. We know this is not part of a healthy society and we need to end this practice."

Industry officials say they are providing a needed service for consumers and their rates are clearly posted. A ballot measure currently being circulated that would cap interest rates-but if the legislature passes a reform bill it would go into effect almost immediately. Both the Governor and Senate leaders say they support reform based on the ballot measure -- but so far Speaker of the House Karen Minnis has not endorsed the proposal.

Representative Jeff Merkley says there's a lot of community support for more regulations on the industry.

"It definitely preys on people at moments of desperation. And citizens understand in their very core that this is wrong, and we would like to see it rectified on behalf of the poor . . . there's no reason to wait till the next session if we can do it now."

Oregon is one of only seven states without a cap on payday loan interest rates.

The Senate Consumer Affairs committee hearing is at 1:00 pm Thursday April 10th at the Oregon State Office Building at 800 NE Oregon in Portland, Room 120C.

The payday loan industry is under fire in Oregon. Three cities have already passed regulations on industry. Today (Thursday) an Oregon Senate committee is holding a hearing to considering tackling the issue during the special session-including capping triple digit interest rates. Dondrea Warner reports.

News Source

International Labor Communications Association, Dondrea Warner, Public News Service

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