Coalition Announces Letter Writing Campaign
The Rhode Island Coalition for Payday Lending Reform announced a letter writing campaign today that would be supported by several local agencies. Individuals are urged to cut and paste the following letter and send it either by regular mail or by email to the speakers of the Rhode Island House and Senate.
Contact information for Senator Paiva-Weed:
Senator M. Teresa Paiva Weed
President of the Senate
318 State House
Providence, Rhode Island 02903
Contact information for Representative Gordon Fox:
Representative Gordon Fox
Speaker of the House
318 State Street
Providence, RI 02903
The letter reads as follows:
Dear Speaker Gordon Fox / Senate President Paiva-Weed,
As a resident of Rhode Island and a voter, it is saddening and frustrating to know we are the only New England state that permits a payday loan at an annual percentage rate above 36 percent.
State law currently allows lenders to charge as much as 280 percent interest.
The House bill (H-5019) is co-sponsored by 52 of 75 representatives; the Senate version (S260), by 29 of 38 senators. In addition, a broad coalition of over 40 community groups, including AARP, the RI AFL-CIO, the RI State Council of Churches, the United Way of RI, and many of the state’s non-profits, support the proposed 36% APR cap on these so-called “payday loans”. Sadly, this legislation has never made it out of committee.
Payday loans are deceptively marketed as a short term solution to my neighbors with financial problems. However, a family that couldn’t afford to pay living expenses before obtaining a payday loan cannot shoulder the additional burden of triple-digit interest. Once the cycle begins, borrowers typically take out larger loans with larger interest payments. The typical user rolls over the loan eight times before they pay it off, usually by way of borrowing money from friends or family members or by using an alternative that they could have gone to in the first place. The payday loan becomes a long-term obligation where the interest paid far exceeds the loan obtained.
This trap undermines choice and competition in the market and allows millions of dollars to flow out of our economy to large, out-of-state national payday lending chains.
Lobbyists sent by the payday lending industry argue that Rhode Islanders could not survive without payday loans. In truth, we survived for decades without them, just as military families and the residents of every other New England state do today.
It is time to vote on a bill to reduce payday loan rates. Government’s primary function is to protect our citizens from harm, from predatory people, businesses and practices. I hope you will do the right thing.
Thank you for your consideration.