THIS BLOG is NOW RETIRED

I began this blog in May 2009 following the death of Marcia Powell at Perryville State Prison in Goodyear, Arizona. It is not intended to prescribe the path that leads to freedom from the prison industrial complex.

Rather, these are just my observations in arguably the most racist, fascist, militaristic state in the nation at a critical time in history for a number of intersecting liberation movements. From Indigenous resistance to genocidal practices, to the fight over laws like SB1070 and the ban on Ethnic Studies, Arizona is at the center of many battles for human rights, and thus the struggle for prison abolition as well - for none are free until all are. I retired the blog in APRIL 2013.

Visit me now at Arizona Prison Watch or Survivors of Prison Violence-AZ

David Rovics: We Are Everywhere

To my fellow activists now struggling through life - let this be a reminder that you are not alone and that we desperately need you here. All the injustice, grief, war, and human suffering calls for us to stay and do everything we can about it - you can't help us anymore when you're gone. Don't give up the fight - your last shred of hope may just keep someone else alive, too.
BLOG POSTS

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Payday extortion..um...loan centers

These people need to be put out of business or forced to clean up their acts: people end up hopelesslessly trapped in debt to those people...shame on the governor if she lets them get away with any of what they have up their sleeves. Their only agenda is self-interest: not AZ consumers' needs.

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Opinion:  Payday lenders trying end run around voters

Our view: Brewer, legislators must take firm stand, reject industry's bid to stay alive


Arizona Daily Star


Tucson, Arizona | Published: 11.29.2009

We are appalled that the state's payday lenders and their lackeys are still seeking to bypass voters and keep the usurious industry alive.

Given Arizona's history with payday loans and voters' desire to run predatory lenders out of the state, it would be shameful if the Legislature and Gov. Jan Brewer choose to give payday lenders a new lease on life. They must not do so.

Arizona voters last year rejected — by a 60-40 margin — an industry-crafted proposal to repeal the law that prohibits them from remaining in business beyond June 30, 2010, when the state law that allows payday loans expires.

We have consistently argued that payday lenders must not be allowed to continue to do business in Arizona.

The state's usury laws, which limit interest on consumer loans to 36 percent a year, were created for a reason — to keep unscrupulous lenders from victimizing unsophisticated borrowers who don't understand that high interest rates can become so burdensome that it becomes almost impossible to repay a loan.

Payday lenders have retained former Arizona Attorney General Grant Woods and the Phoenix lobbyist firm Highground to persuade lawmakers and Brewer to let them stay in business, Howard Fischer of Capitol Media Services reported on Friday. Highground's owners include Chuck Coughlin and Doug Cole, both advisers to Brewer, Fischer noted.


In 2000, payday-loan industry lobbyists pushed through a special law allowing them to charge fees far higher than the 36 percent cap for transactions of up to $500.

Thus, a person who needs money for a few weeks can write a check to a payday lender for that amount plus the fee, which can be up to $17.85 per $100 borrowed. The lender agrees not to cash the check for up to two weeks. The borrower pays an annual percentage interest of more than 450 percent.

Woods told Fischer that the payday lenders agreed to changes that made him comfortable working on their behalf.

But state Sen. Debbie McCune Davis, D-Phoenix, told Fischer that much of what they are offering now was also in the 2008 measure rejected by voters.

The plan would cap fees at $15 for every $100 borrowed, but McCune Davis said that lowers the annual percentage rate to only 391 percent.

Woods said that interest figure is accurate, but misleading. "These are two-week loans, not annual loans," he told Fischer. He said that about 94 percent of borrowers pay off the loan within that time.

The plan to be presented to lawmakers would allow a borrower who cannot repay within two weeks an extra 60 days without interest, Woods said. That provision also was in the measure voters turned down.

So are other "improvements" Woods cited, including a prohibition on rolling over existing loans and a method to ensure that borrowers at one payday lender don't have outstanding loans from another, according to McCune Davis.

McCune Davis said lenders driven out of business by the payday loan industry formerly financed loans under the 36 percent interest cap; she predicted they will return to Arizona when payday lenders leave.

Woods asserted that payday loans are needed, and cited the fact that people turn to them as evidence of this.

But the voters have made themselves clear. When money is tight, consumers don't just need credit options, they need good credit options.

The Legislature and Brewer must take heed. Case closed.

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