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Vote Expected in MN House Today on Payday Lending Reform

PHOTO: The number of payday loans in Minnesota has more than doubled over the past five years, with the average borrower taking out 10 loans. Photo credit: Teresa Boardman/Flickr
PHOTO: The number of payday loans in Minnesota has more than doubled over the past five years, with the average borrower taking out 10 loans. Photo credit: Teresa Boardman/Flickr
April 24, 2014

ST. PAUL, Minn. – Minnesota lawmakers are expected to take up legislation today to reform the rules around payday lending in the state.

Supporters say the proposal would help protect consumers from over-the-top interest rates and fees, which can leave them in a spiral of debt.

It's something that Cherrish Holland, a financial counselor with LSS Financial Counseling in Willmar, has seen firsthand.

"That is exactly what we're seeing happening to Minnesotans, our neighbors,” she says. “People who are living paycheck to paycheck, and at some point they take out a payday loan maybe to get current with their utility bill or some other day-to-day, ongoing expense and then unfortunately, they are trapped."

Payday lenders say they fill a need for those with cash emergencies and the higher rates are due to the higher risk.

The Minnesota House is expected to vote on the bill today, with a floor vote in the Senate expected before the end of the month.

Brian Rusche, executive director of the Joint Religious Legislative Coalition, says with costs that can equal 300 or even 400 percent interest, these types of loans are predatory and rely heavily on auto-debit.

"So in other words, they have your checking account number and they know when your payday is, so they get full payment for their loan,” he explains. “The loan is typically due on your payday and they just auto-debit the money, so the default rate is very, very low."

Rusche says today's action at the state Capitol comes as a new poll finds that a strong majority favors the reforms.

"We conducted a poll of Minnesota voters that showed that over 70 percent of Minnesota voters agree with us that we need consumer protections for payday loans and to specifically to address the debt trap," he points out.

If the legislation becomes law, payday lenders would be required to use basic underwriting standards and there would be a cap on the number of loans that they could make to one person in one year.



John Michaelson, Public News Service - MN