- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 26, 2009

RICHMOND | The Senate gave final approval Wednesday to legislation on payday lending and two other bills that now go to Gov. Tim Kaine.

The chamber unanimously passed the bill, which bars payday lenders from offering open-end loans. It also would bar the businesses from offering payday loans for 10 years if they give up their licenses in order to offer open-end loans.

The Assembly last year passed tough new restrictions on the short-term, high-interest lenders. Before the law took effect in January, the majority of the state’s 800 payday lenders began offering open-end loans, which are unregulated and have sky-high interest rates.

Mr. Kaine, a Democrat, has 30 days to sign, veto or change the bill.

Kaine spokesman Gordon Hickey said “the problem needs to be fixed” but did not say whether the governor would sign the bill.

The legislation sailed through the General Assembly, but some legislators and advocates were upset that it didn’t crack down on car title lenders, who already operate under the state’s open-end credit law.

The open-end credit law allows lenders to charge whatever they want as long as they don’t charge anything for the first 25 days.

Mr. Kaine will now also consider a bill passed Wednesday by the Assembly that would extend the death penalty to people who kill fire marshals and auxiliary police.

The Senate bills cleared the House on similarly lopsided, veto-proof margins. Mr. Kaine has resisted previous efforts to widen Virginia’s death penalty.

Already before Mr. Kaine is legislation that makes people who plan homicides as eligible for capital punishment as the person who carries out the killing.

Opponents argued that expanding the law to include fire marshals and auxiliary police is unnecessary because existing murder laws already subject people convicted of such crimes to possible execution.

The third bill going to Mr. Kaine is one that allows those with concealed-carry permits to take hidden guns into restaurants as long as they don’t drink. Mr. Kaine vetoed the bill last year.

The Senate’s 22-16 vote Wednesday was five shy of the two-thirds majority needed to override a veto.

The House took out a requirement that the person inform someone at the restaurant that he was carrying a concealed weapon. The Senate agreed to that change.

Currently, guns can be taken into restaurants as long as they are out in the open.

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