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ACTION ALERT: Payday lending reform needs 100 calls

Do you think that Ohio should have the worst payday lending interest rates in the country that can be around 600%? If no, then please call your Ohio House Representative today to support House Bill (HB) 123.

The House Government Accountability and Oversight Committee recently voted 9-1 to move HB 123 forward. With enough pressure from constituents, the bill is likely to come before the full House for a vote in mid-May. This is coming after revelations of an FBI investigation of payday lender lobbyists providing lavish international travel to the ex-Ohio House Speaker.

It is critical we make our voices heard to legislators over these two weeks. We can’t become complacent.

Our goal is to have House members receive 100 calls urging them to vote YES on this bill. Will you be one of those calls?

Please call your members of the Ohio House and ask them to vote YES on HB 123 to protect consumers and reject the influence of predatory payday lenders.

Here’s a simple sample of what you can say:

My name is ____ from ____. I am calling to urge you to vote YES on bipartisan payday loan reform, HB 123, to protect consumers and reject the influence of predatory payday lenders. Can we count on your support?

After you call, feel free to send us a note telling us how it went, and so we can thank you for your advocacy.

In case you missed the recent coverage, check out:

Editorial: Ohioans Deserve Answers to Payday Lending Questions
The Columbus Dispatch

Payday Lender Made International Trips with Ohio House Speaker
Dayton Daily News

Your calls can and are making a difference.

Thank you for your advocacy!

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Supporters pleased Ohio House Committee votes to move payday loan reform bill forward

Full House, Senate Must Act To Enact These Fair, Overdue Reforms

Nate Coffman speaks to the press following the successful vote on HB 123.

COLUMBUS – April 18 – Ohioans for Payday Loan Reform applauded the Ohio House Government Accountability and Oversight Committee for today voting 9-1 to send House Bill 123 on to the full House for a vote. If it becomes law, HB123 would make vast improvements to the payday lending landscape in Ohio.

Committee members voted overwhelmingly in favor of the bill as introduced more than a year ago by Reps. Kyle Koehler, R-Springfield, and Mike Ashford, D-Toledo. The only dissenting vote came from Rep. Bill Seitz, R-Cincinnati, who unsuccessfully tried to make amendments to the bill.

“It has been a long, difficult road to get this bill through committee,’’ said Springfield Pastor Carl Ruby, one of the coalition’s leaders. “I thank the majority of committee members who finally saw how much this will help hundreds of thousands of Ohio families trapped in debt and save them millions of dollars each year.

“But I especially want to thank Reps. Koehler and Ashford, who have demonstrated a sustained tenacity in working on this vital effort to protect Ohio residents,’’ said Ruby. “It’s not been easy in the face of payday lenders’ well-heeled lobbying efforts.’’

Coalition leaders also acknowledged Rep. Kirk Schuring, who had worked on amendments to HB 123 but, ultimately, agreed that the original bill should be voted on. “We might not have agreed with everything Rep. Schuring was working on, but we believe his heart was in the right place,’’ said David Thomas, a coalition leader from Ashtabula County.

“It is important that the full House move quickly to approve the bill and send it on to the Senate,” said coalition leader Nate Coffman of the Ohio CDC Association. “We can’t let them forget that in the first year this bill was stalled in committee, it cost Ohioans an estimated $75 million,’’ said Coffman. “The full House and the Senate can’t let that happen any longer. We encourage them to act swiftly in the best interests of all Ohioans.’’

Ohio has the dubious distinction of having the highest lending rates in the nation, with typical annual percentage rates on payday loans approaching 600%.

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First round of signatures filed to put payday lending reform initiative on November statewide ballot

“We are certain voters will support this if legislators don’t act on reform”

Pastor Carl Ruby and Nate Coffman explain the necessity for payday lending reform.

Leaders of an initiative to put payday lending reform on the November statewide ballot this morning turned in over 2,000 petition signatures to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office. This is the first step to getting the measure on the ballot. Backers are pursuing this direction because state lawmakers have not acted on reform.

The petition language calls for a constitutional amendment that would cap payday loan interest rates in Ohio at 28%.

Nate Coffman, of Ohio CDC Association in Columbus, and Pastor Carl Ruby, of Springfield, are filing the petitions. At least 1,000 of the Ohio voter signatures must be validated and the Attorney General’s Office must determine that the summary of the proposed constitutional referendum is a fair and truthful representation of the proposed law.

The Attorney General must then certify the petition to the Secretary of State. At that point, Coffman, Ruby and other supporters can start collecting the 305,591 valid registered voter signatures that must be filed by July 4 in order to get the issue on the November ballot.

“These petitions, these signatures are proof that we mean business,’’ said Coffman. “It’s been nearly 12 months since a bi-partisan reform bill, House Bill 123, was introduced and the legislation has stalled ever since. It seems like they don’t care that every day this bill doesn’t move forward, it costs Ohioans an average of $200,000 in excessive borrowing costs, or about $75 million annually. That’s not acceptable. And that’s why we are pushing for a ballot issue.’’

Payday lenders charge an average 591% annual percentage rate in Ohio, the highest such rate in the nation. Pastor Ruby said that rate is ridiculous, and he is tired of seeing lenders gouge vulnerable, lower income working Ohioans.

It’s time for the voters of Ohio to have their say, because apparently many in the legislature are not willing or eager to advance

Pastor Carl Ruby and Nate Coffman submitting over 2,000 signatures to the Attorney General’s Office.

HB 123,’’ said Ruby. “With a few notable exceptions, they seem more interested in placating the special interest groups who are profiting from these loans, than in protecting the working class borrowers who are sinking deeper and deeper into debt.’’

The ballot initiative mirrors some of the reforms called for in the bi-partisan HB 123, which seeks to establish a maximum interest rate on such loans of 28% plus a maximum monthly fee of $20.

Coffman pointed out that in 2008, Ohioans overwhelmingly voted in favor of payday lending reforms. “Since then, payday lenders have by-passed the will of the people and state law and are charging even higher prices,’’ he said. “That’s unacceptable, and we are certain Ohio voters will agree if legislators themselves don’t move quickly on reform.’’

Members of Ohioans for Payday Loan Reform, a diverse statewide coalition of more than 100 individuals and organizations that support passage of HB 123, will be asked to support the ballot initiative.

Nick DiNardo, of Cincinnati, and Michal Marcus, of Cleveland, are joining Ruby and Coffman in the push for a November ballot vote.