Rep. Mary Still to hold hearing on payday loans

Saturday, November 14, 2009 | 4:15 p.m. CST

COLUMBIA — Columbia residents won't see a groundbreaking for any new payday loan businesses within city limits in the near future.

However, the question of whether Columbia payday loan businesses need any added regulation will be on the City Council's agenda during the next six months.

If you go

What: Hearing on payday loan businesses and payday loans.

When: 6:30 p.m. Monday

Where: Columbia Public Library, 100 W. Broadway

Who: State Reps. Mary Still, D-Columbia, and John Burnett, D-Kansas City. 

Why: Still is trying to gather information she needs to sponsor a bill that would further regulate payday loans in Missouri. "I think we need to have some reform in Missouri. We have an average interest rate of 430 percent, and Missouri also allows six loan renewals," Still said.

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In early November, the council passed an ordinance that imposed a six-month freeze on new payday loan businesses. Third Ward Councilman Karl Skala said that the moratorium will serve as a time to figure out what else, if anything, needs to be done.

The same question is being asked on the statewide level as well.

State Rep. Mary Still, D-Columbia, sponsored a bill that proposed interest rate restrictions on payday loans during the 2009 legislative session. The bill never came up for debate, but Still said she hasn't given up.

She is holding what she called a "district hearing" at 6:30 p.m. Monday at the Columbia Public Library, 100 W. Broadway. Still said in a recent interview that she wants to find out specifics on how payday loans operate and learn how other states are dealing with them. She also said that she hopes what she learns Monday night will give her enough information to sponsor a better bill this upcoming session.

"It will be an opportunity to get good input so that maybe this year I'll have a hearing, and the speaker will assign me a time so I can get the information I need to work out a law we can live with in Missouri that would help protect poor, working people that often just get trapped," Still said. "These are people that work; they just don't have a lot of money."

State Rep. John Burnett, D-Kansas City, will also be at the meeting Monday night. Bill Black, a University of Missouri-Kansas City economics and law professor, is expected to speak, as are representatives from the AARP and Better Business Bureau of Eastern Missouri and Southern Illinois.

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Jeff Kursman November 17, 2009 | 3:55 p.m.

Doesn't a fair and impartial hearing require that both sides of an argument be heard? Where were the consumers who use the payday lending product, the companies that offer these loans, and the researchers who support the contention that it offers a reasonable alternative to other more expensive products?

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