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Activists Can Now Collect Signatures For Payday Loan Reform Ballot Issue

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

Backers of a ballot proposal to cap Ohio's interest rates on payday loans and impose additional regulations on the industry have been cleared to begin signature-gathering.

The state Ballot Board advanced the "Short-Term Loan Consumer Protection Amendment" on Tuesday by certifying it as a single ballot issue. It aims to reduce some of the nation's highest interest rates on short-term loans by capping them at no more than 28 percent, as well as imposes new restrictions on fees, rules and disclosures.

Don Brey, the lawyer for the group behind the measure, says the language will look familiar to many.

"It's basically, with a couple of tweaks, the same as House Bill 123," Brey said.

That'sthe billadvocates were pushing for in the Ohio House, which would impose some of the same restrictions as the ballot issue. While it passed a House committe, legislators dragged their feet on bringing it to the floor. Now, the fight over a new Ohio House Speaker has delayed it further.

The Ohio Ballot Board's approval allows the Ohio CDC Association, which works to improve neighborhoods, to begin gathering roughly 306,000 signatures. The Ohio Attorney General's office certified a petition summary last week.

Ohio voters approved payday lending limits in 2008, but the industry has found ways to bypass those restrictions. The payday loan industry strongly opposes both the bill and the ballot issue, saying it could shut down stores and cut off access to people who need loans.