Payday lending has moved to the top of the Senate list —for now. Opponents and supporters want to see the bill to regulate the payday lending industry done and dealt with this year.
And for the first time, the South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs supports a form of the bill that includes … a database and limits on loan frequency.
Payday lenders grant about 4.3 million loans a year in South Carolina.
A tough economy and tightening of consumer credit have made short-term, high interest loans an alternative to missed payments, says the agency’s Alice Brooks.
“Payday lending is not going to go away anytime soon in South Carolina,” says Brooks, ” and so we feel that to offer it in a more responsible manner is probably the way to go. The amendments to this particular piece of legislation are very well thought out and very consumer-friendly.”
Brooks says Consumer Affairs is encouraged by the idea of a database shared by lenders.
“For the longest time, people have been able to go to one payday lender and take out a loan and then run right across the street and take out another loan without the two loan companies knowing about it, or even caring. And we think it’s irresponsible to have something like this going on,” says Brooks.”
In Senate chambers Wednesday, Committe Chair David Thomas of Greenville says the bill is tough enough and that making the any more stringent might kill it in the House.
“If you want a bill that is going to get the industry under control, then this is the bill to do it and any amendment would have the death sentence on it from the House,” says Thomas, “And we can argue all day internally on whether this is good or bad or how much they are making and so on. The ultimate question is, do we want to get the industry under control? It’s not good, I don;t like it. I like the one we passed last year, but it’s better than nothing and if this dies, it’s going to create a situation where the industry stays with no controls.”
Richland Democrat Joel Lourie says the amendments discussed for the past two days gives the Senate more room to negotiate with the House:
“Let’s make it strong bill so that when we do go to conference committee, we’ve got something to negotiate with we don’t go there with one arm tied behind our back,” says Lourie.
Others, like Anderson Senator Kevin Bryant say a mandatory database is too “big brother” for their liking.