Religious leaders denounce payday lending practices - - Jackson, MS

Religious leaders denounce payday lending practices

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By Ashley Conroy - email

JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Religious leaders gathered at the state capitol Monday to denounce payday lending practices in the state.

Members of the Mississippi Religious Leadership Conference and the Catholic Diocese of Jackson say that it's "immoral" and preys on the poor.

"We who are part of the religious establishment understand the importance of any just and moral society to do right by those who cannot do right themselves," said Pastor C. J. Rose from Mount Helm Baptist Church.

Bishop William Houck from the Catholic Diocese of Jackson wants lawmakers to consider passing legislation that will protect payday lenders.

"I plead with you, help us to do what we can as people of our state, who care about our poor, who care about our state," Bishop Houck said.

The Mississippi NAACP, the Women's Fund, and the Mississippi Center for Justice were also in attendance at the press conference.

Those against payday lending practices want interest rates capped the same as banks and credit unions at 36 percent from it's current 572 percent interest rate.

Currently, check cashing businesses can write a contract anywhere from one to 30 days.

However, Spokesperson for Borrow Smart Mississippi Dan Robinson, organization that educates others about payday lending, says these figures aren't accurate.

"The 572 percent APR they use is on a 14-day cycle," Robinson said. "To actually get to the 572 percent you would have to do that 26 times during the year to get 572 percent."

Robinson says he thinks special interest groups are stirring the debate at the state capitol.

"Some of the special interest groups are really stirring things. We debated the facts at the House Banking Committee hearing and we showed the numbers that were providing simply weren't true."

Customer, Kimberly Haymer says she's used payday loans for about six months, but says it's helped her financial situation.

"Sometimes you have unexpected expenses," Haymer said. "You know car repair, or in between paydays you try to make it."

Meantime, two versions are floating around the state legislature.

The House first passed a version, HB 455, that would give borrowers 21 days to repay $200 dollars, and at least 28 days to repay $201 to $500 dollars.

They sent this measure over to the Senate and they debated their own version.

The Senate's would give borrowers 21 days to repay $300 dollars, and at least 28 days to repay $301 to $500 dollars.

Both chambers have to agree before the Governor can sign anything into law.

The Miss. Dept. of Banking and Consumer Finance currently regulates the payday loan industry.

There are around 950 that are licensed, and employ around 3,000 people statewide.

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