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Thursday, April 06, 2006 

From the Inbox...

Asa: Time For Action To Close Down Predatory Lending
Calls for repeal of 1999 law allowing exploitation of poorest, most vulnerable in Arkansas; penalty provision for usury violations
Little Rock – Asa Hutchinson, 2006 Republican candidate for Governor, said today that he would lead the charge to revoke a 1999 law that has allowed payday lending companies to exploit the poorest and most vulnerable Arkansans.
Speaking to the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) in Little Rock today, Hutchinson called specifically for the revocation of the 1999 Check Cashers Law. He also called for a penalty fine provision to put teeth into the state's usury law.
Hutchinson noted that these two actions would serve to protect low- and middle-income Arkansans from the spiral of debt and exorbitant interest that accrue in predatory lending transactions. Arkansas members of AARP, many of whom live on fixed incomes, have made reigning in the practice of predatory lending one of their priorities.
"It's past time for somebody to step up and do away with this exploitative practice," Hutchinson said. "Predatory payday lending is a trap for the unwary that becomes a financial ball and chain around the necks of our working families and our most vulnerable citizens."
One provision of the 1999 Check Cashers Act allows payday lenders to charge fees and interest rates in excess of the state's usury limit of 17 percent, as laid out in the Arkansas Constitution. The result is that borrowers frequently find themselves paying triple-digit interest rates on short-term loans, creating a debt spiral from which they cannot escape.
"This is certainly something that the Legislature should address, and as Governor, I'll work with lawmakers to correct this exploitative law," Hutchinson said.
Hutchinson discussed his views on predatory lending before a lunch meeting of the West Little Rock AARP, in which he discussed a range of issues related to seniors and the race for Arkansas Governor. Low-income seniors are one group ripe for exploitation by predatory lenders, Hutchinson said in his remarks.
(Hutchinson first denounced the practice of predatory lending in December 2005. Click here to read the full article).

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