PNS Daily Newscast - March 21, 2019 

The nation’s acting Defense Secretary is under investigation for promoting Boeing, his former employer. Also on the Thursday rundown: The Trump administration’s spending blueprint being called a “bully budget.” Plus, a call for the feds to protect consumers from abusive lenders.

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Payday Lenders Curtailed, For Now

Maryland has capped payday loans at 33 percent but other states have not put limits in place. (
Maryland has capped payday loans at 33 percent but other states have not put limits in place. (
October 9, 2017

BALTIMORE — While consumer rights groups are celebrating last week's decision by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to stop payday debt traps, they say there's still more work to be done.

The new rules require payday lenders to start verifying a borrower's ability to repay the loan before rolling it over into a new loan. Marceline White, executive director of the Maryland Consumer Rights Coalition, said Maryland has been taking extra steps to protect consumers for three decades, but there have been attempts to scrap those rules.

"In Maryland, last session during the General Assembly, we had to fight off another attempt by payday lenders to exploit a loophole in our law,” White said. “And they were able to do that and charge 300 to 400 percent loans."

The General Assembly shot that attempt down, and Maryland's cap on payday loans remains at 33 percent. White called attempts by the payday loan industry to exploit hard-working families across the country every year "never ending."

White said she applauds the decision by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau because she said other states have not taken steps to protect consumers.

"The CFPB cannot separate caps. They're not allowed to, but now any kind of lender will have to prove that somebody can pay back a 1,000 percent loan and meet all their other financial obligations,” she said. "We strongly believe that they will fail that test. "

According to White, conservatives in Congress are expected to try to repeal the new rule using the Congressional Review Act before it even goes into effect. And in 2018, President Trump will get the chance to nominate a new head of the CFPB. Its current director, Richard Cordray, is a holdover from the Obama administration.

Veronica Carter, Public News Service - MD