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Advocates For Payday Lending Reform Take First Step To Make November Ballot

Supporters of a bill that reform payday lending gather at the Ohio Statehouse.
Andy Chow
Ohio Public Radio

Advocates pushing for a crackdown on payday lenders in Ohio are one step closer to getting their reform proposal on the November ballot. The group says they’re tired of waiting on lawmakers to act, so they’re going straight to the voters.

Ohioans for Payday Loan Reform delivered their first batch of petitions to the attorney general’s office. The proposed ballot issue would cap the interest rates of payday loans at 28 percent. Currently, those rates can reach as high as 600 percent.

The group’s Carl Ruby says, for example, that the first payment on a loan can be up to a third of someone’s monthly income.

“So if you’re falling behind on monthly expenses one month and take out a loan and then the next month a third of your income is going toward that first payment there’s no way they’re going to be able to make it,” Ruby said.

Voters approved a similar measure 10 years ago, but Ruby says this measure would close loopholes the industry has used to still raise interest rates.

Opponents from the payday loan industry say this undermines the free market and could wipe out their storefronts.

Ohioans for Payday Loan Reform had been pushing for a bipartisan bill, HB 123, which has received just two committee hearings. The bill's language reflects most of what the ballot issue attempts to do. The measure also leaves room for lawmakers to still pass that bill.

House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger (R-Clarksville) says they're closer to putting out a new proposal that makes changes to HB 123.

Andy Chow is a general assignment state government reporter who focuses on environmental, energy, agriculture, and education-related issues. He started his journalism career as an associate producer with ABC 6/FOX 28 in Columbus before becoming a producer with WBNS 10TV.