February 16, 2010

Is payday loan regulation a partisan issue? Duh

The Wisconsin State Assembly on Tuesday passed a bill to regulate the payday loan business -- but not before rejecting a more stringent amendment that would have set an interest rate cap.

The so-called Responsible Lending Act, AB 447, passed on a 59-38 vote, mostly party-line. Twelve Republicans voted for it; five Democrats voted nay. Racine Democrats Cory Mason and Bob Turner voted yea; Republican Robin Vos voted against regulation.

The amendment which would have set an interest rate cap of 36% per year was co-sponsored by Mason and Turner, along with 18 other Democrats. It was rejected by a 56-41 vote. Mason and Turner were among the minority voting for the amendment; Vos voted with the majority that rejected it.

WisPolitics quoted Assembly Minority Leader Jeff Fitzgerald saying this is the wrong time to restrict credit, with unemployment high and people struggling to make ends meet. "You're taking a legitimate option away from people during the worst recession we've seen in 80 years," Fitzgerald said. "You're tone deaf to what's going on out there."

A prominent Democrat, Assembly Speaker Mike Sheridan, who last session supported a rate cap but this session said a cap goes too far, voted to table the amendment. (No doubt, his dating of a loan industry lobbyist had nothing to do with his switch...because that would be wrong.) Sheridan did vote for the bill itself.

Mason said, “While AB 447 represents a great step in the right direction, and will move Wisconsin forward towards more stringent regulations of the payday loan industry, I felt strongly that Wisconsin’s residents would be most protected by a rate cap on the outrageously high interest rates charged by these predatory lenders.

“I have heard story after story from hard-working constituents, whose lives have been devastated by the vicious cycle of never-ending debt that can result from these payday loans.”

The state Senate now takes up its own payday loan legislation.


  1. What is Vos thinking? This is taking the whole "no to everything" a little too far.

  2. It's not restricting credit, it's limiting the amount of interest. Which I would think a smart move from what we have all just witnessed and are still witnessing in regards to interest rate hikes.

  3. Bob. Please save Racine from Dickert

  4. After reading Ken Hall's piece today in the JT I think they should not have voted until they got a good bill. Something that does nothing, like this bill appears, isn't worth the time it took to pass it. Without a significant cap on the interest charge this was nothing more than a feel good bill. It is time for the elected officials of both parties to actually take a strong stand and quit passing half measures. To call this a victory makes the dems look as out of touch as the GOP on this issue.

    Give me a strong independent who will take a stand and that person has my vote come November.

  5. Payday interests poured tons of money into campaign coffers hoping to get a watered down bill, its amazing with the pressure they put on one got passed at all.

    Mike Sheridan should be forced to step down, he embarrassed the Assembly and compromised himself.

    Of our three Assembly Representatives guess who was the only one to receive Payday contributions? Duh! Vos of course.

    The only restriction of credit he's worried about is his own.

  6. 8:08 - I agree, Dustin and Pete always tell one side of the story - knucklehead Mason's side.

  7. I am surprised at both political parties shock over the anti-incumbent anger. Even democrats and republican friends of mine aren't happy with their parties. The independents are on fire. November will see a lot of new unemployed people. Their last job listed will be elected official.

    Both parties should hang their head in shame for this limp excuse of a consumer protection bill.

  8. Kay, it also places a maximum dollar amount on the loan.

    That is called restricting credit.

  9. Looks like they're doing everything except what should be done - set a maximum interest rate. It's a legitimate government function to prevent usury. Otherwise, we ought to just legalize loan-sharking. The rest of the regulations are just window-dressing that interfere with the business.

  10. Fred - How old is that picture? Why don't you just get your picture taken with Walker and be done with it.

  11. Is it because the demand for loans are increasing and lenders are the ones benefited most?