Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Editorial: Ohio must keep after predatory lenders

Ohio legislators should pass House Bill 486 to prevent predatory lenders from skirting the law and preying on the most economically vulnerable members of our community.

Voters and lawmakers already have told lending companies that payday loans that charge exorbitant interest rates are not welcome in our state.

In 2008, Ohio legislators overwhelmingly passed the Short Term Lender Law, which places a 28 percent interest rate cap on short- term loans.

The idea was to halt payday lending that sent consumers into a long-term cycle of debt.

Before the law changed the typical customer borrowed 11 to 12 loans per year, which trapped them in high-interest loans for up t o 24 months.

After the governor signed the bill into law, lenders took the issue to the voters in the form of a referendum, which failed by a margin of nearly two to one.

Since then, lenders have found loopholes to continue their predatory practice in the form of the Mortgage Loan Act, the Small Loan Act and statutes governing credit service organizations in ways that were never intended.

The new bill, which will likely be voted on in the coming days, will protect legitimate forms of lending. At the same time, it bans huge check-cashing fees charged to the borrower.

It curbs the cycle of debt and limits the origination and credit check fees for loans of less than $1,000 to once during a 90-day period.

In prohibits brokering and Internet scams that send loan rates as high as 670 percent.
Gov. Ted Strickland supports the bipartisan legislation.

“In 2008, Ohio voters sent a strong message that they wanted to see greater consumer protections against predatory lending practices,” Strickland said. “Since then, my administration has been using the regulatory and rule-making tools available to the Ohio Department of Commerce to strictly enforce the letter and spirit of the law. This legislation is the practical next step to strengthen the laws on the books and close loopholes to enact safeguards for Ohio families.”

This move is not unique to Ohio. In fact, 16 states and the District of Columbia have capped payday loan interest rates or banned the practice.

House Bill 486 is a law that absolutely makes sense at this time in our state. It stops the economic predators who have found a way to take advantage of those who are the most vulnerable.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Our Opinion: Take advantage of your right to vote

On Tuesday, voters will have the chance to participate in a truly American activity.
Polling places will be open for the primary election, where we will be allowed to vote for issues that could have a great affect on our lives.

In the last few weeks we’ve told you how we would vote to best help our community, but here is a recap.

z Issue 1 authorizes the state to spend $1 billion in five years, through bonds, to fund the Third Frontier Program. Voting for this will help high-tech companies increase jobs. While Richland County has seen only limited dollars from previous Third Frontier funding this provides much needed incentives that could benefit our workers in the future.

z Issue 2 is a minor issue that if approved will allow a proposed Columbus casino to move from a site in the Arena District to a site once occupied by a former auto parts plant. We can see no reason not to approve this issue.

z Electric aggregation is a win-win for everyone. It provides grants for cities and other local governments and it lowers consumer power bills at little to no risk. A vote for this issue makes sense.

z Voters should approve all school levies and bonds on the ballot. Those of note include a bond issue and permanent improvement levy to allow for school construction in Shelby, and a bond issue for Madison Local Schools for a building to replace the crumbling junior high school building.

Depending on where you live, you also may find a long list of names of people running unopposed.

Voting for these people are mostly procedural, but it is part of the election process.

We fear that because there are no major issues or contested races, that few people will go to the polls. This is tragic, especially when there are so many people who say they are dissatisfied with everything from taxes to politics. This is a chance to speak out

Voting also allows every citizen to show their support for our democratic form of government. A democracy works only when its citizenry participates.

Find polling places online at richlandcountyoh.us/boe.htm.