COLUMBUS – Ohioans from across the state, including Austinburg Township Fiscal Officer David Thomas, rallied on the Statehouse steps to urge passage of H.B. 123, legislation to reform payday lending.
Ohio has the unfortunate distinction of having the highest-cost payday loans in the nation, with typical annual percentage rates on these small loans approaching 600%.
Ohioans in 2008 overwhelmingly voted in favor of reform to cap rates at 28%, but the payday loan industry exploited a loophole, enabling them to charge unlimited fees for brokering loans.
“In spite of the will of Ohio voters, payday lenders today are charging even higher prices than in 2008 and the problem is worse than ever,’’ said Rep. Kyle Koehler, R-Springfield, who with Rep. Mike Ashford, D-Toledo, introduced House Bill 123 earlier this year to reform payday loans.
“This is something we should all care about. We can and must fix this situation. In addition to making it harder for Ohio families to escape the cycle of debt, payday loans hurt Ohio’s economy, as $145 million is paid in fees and interest each year, most going to out-of-state companies.’’
Speakers and attendees at the rally included representatives Koehler and Ashford, along with representatives from rural and urban Ohio, cities and counties, non-profits, faith leaders and other supporters of the bill.
David Thomas serves as an Ohioans for Payday Loan Reform Coalition Leader helping to represent rural Ohio and local governments. “Our lobby day and rally were both very positive in helping to educate state leaders on the negative effects excessive Payday Loan rates and fees have on all Ohioans,” shared Thomas, “Ashtabula County residents alone could save $1 million a year from this reform which is money that would support local businesses and jobs.”
Ohioans for Payday Loan Reform is a diverse statewide coalition of more than 100 individuals and organizations that support passage of HB 123, which seeks to establish a maximum interest rate on such loans of 28% plus a maximum monthly fee of $20. HB 123 would preserve access to small loans while ensuring affordable payments, reasonable time to repay and lower costs, saving Ohioans $75 million annually.
Every day this bill stalls, it costs Ohioans $205,479 – adding up to more than $42 million since HB 123 was introduced in March. Supporters of HB 123 include veterans, faith leaders, business groups, consumer advocates and more, conducted individual visits with their state legislators prior to gathering at the afternoon rally and urged them to move the legislation forward
“This unparalleled gouging of Ohioans by the payday loan industry is an embarrassment for Ohio,” said David Rothstein, chair of the Coalition for Safe Loan Alternatives and a leader of the payday reform group. “To the bipartisan group of state legislators who have stepped up to support HB 123, I say ‘Thank you.’ To House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger, who has refused to even schedule a public hearing on the legislation, I say ‘What are you waiting for?’”
Pastor Carl Ruby of Springfield, another coalition leader, agreed.
“It’s time to reform these outrageously high-priced loans and unbounded greed that hurts Ohioans and their families,” he said. “Any fair-minded person who is not allied with the payday loan industry quickly determines that reform is needed once they examine the facts.”