- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 7, 2015

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) - A bill that would rewrite Washington’s payday-lending laws to favor longer-term high-interest loans has stalled in a House committee after passing the Senate in a contentious vote.

Senate Bill 5899, endorsed by Seattle-based Moneytree and opposed by Gov. Jay Inslee, faced a Tuesday deadline for most fiscal bills to advance past the Legislature’s committees. The House General Government and Information Technology Committee heard the bill Monday but did not vote on it, which leaves the bill with only a slight possibility of reaching the full House.

Committee chairman Rep. Zack Hudgins, D-Tukwila, said he didn’t call for a vote on the bill because he thought it lacked enough backing to win a vote. “This is a controversial bill,” Hudgins said via email, “and the hearing brought out overwhelming opposition to the bill.”

The sign-in sheets for Hudgins’ committee meeting Monday had seven pages of opponents and only one person who signed in to testify in favor, the legislator said.

The bill attracted extended debate before it passed the Senate in a 30-18 vote March 10. Although the bill was sponsored by a Democrat, Sen. Marko Liias of Lynnwood, many of his party mates criticized its changes to short-term “payday” loans as exploitative and deceptive. Under reforms enacted in 2009, payday loans are currently restricted to two-week loans of up to $700 with 36 percent annual interest, which has winnowed what was once a billion-dollar business in Washington down to about $330 million a year.

“We already have pretty decent sidebars around the industry, so I’m actually quite comfortable with what we have right now,” said Rep. Cindy Ryu, D-Shoreline and vice chair of the House Business and Financial Services committee, “even though, you know, their APR (Annual Percentage Rate) is ridiculous.”

The bill that passed the Senate this year, with the support of all but one of the chamber’s majority Republican caucus, would abolish that framework and allow loans of up to six months with monthly and other fees and a similar interest rate.

Liias did not respond to a request for comment.

Inslee is against the bill because it would raise costs for average consumers, spokesman David Postman said Tuesday.

Senate Republican leader Mark Schoesler of Ritzville said a payday lending plan could ultimately be part of any final budget deal before the Legislature’s 2015 session concludes.

“It does have some pieces that could very well play in the budget because it is a vehicle that needs to be addressed,” he said. “It certainly could be a piece, and if it were put to a vote of the House, I suspect there’s 50 votes there.”

House Minority Leader Dan Kristiansen, a Republican from Snohomish, said he has heard from constituents who want access to these types of loans.

“Nothing is dead until the end of session,” Kristiansen said. “I don’t think this is dead either.”

___

AP writer Rachel La Corte contributed from Olympia.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide