Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Mississippi Baptists support real payday lending reform

Once again, the Mississippi Baptist Christian Action Commission is urging legislators to enact meaningful payday lending reform. Earlier in the session the CAC did the same, but watered-down legislation made its way to conference committee. What's very odd about this is that a good number of opponents of real payday lending reform are the first ones to proclaim themselves "Christian conservatives." We applaud the CAC for their efforts to help end the victimization of Mississippi's poor.

Here's the latest letter to the Mississippi Senate from Mississippi Baptist Christian Action Commission Executive Director Dr. Jimmy Porter (pictured above):

Dear Members of the Senate,

Some might question, “Why does the Christian Action Commission, a religious entity, care about the current regulations as they pertain to the payday lending industry”?

Simply put, the Bible says, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” and if I were being exploited, then I would want someone to help me resolve the unfairness.

Our main concern is with what is called the “debt trap” that snares a percentage of the borrowers.

The payday lending bill, HB 455, is on its way for negotiation in conference where House and Senate conferees will be asked to support it, but from our perspective the following items must be included to be considered an acceptable compromise:

1. Make it illegal to split loans.

2. Simplify loan repayment terms with one payback period of at least 28-30 days for all loans.

3. Make it illegal to have more than one active loan, prohibiting multiple loans at a time.

4. There must be a database, probably fifty cents per loan taken from existing fees, to monitor the loans.

5. Limit the loans to no more than perhaps six per year per borrower.

If conferees and the lending industry are not willing to implement these regulations, then it is our desire that this bill die this year.

Next year, the time element will make negotiations a bit easier, and there will be more leeway in getting a bill that is more inline with Judeo-Christian principles.

Thank you in advance for considering these suggestions as you make decisions related to payday lending reform.

Jimmy Porter

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