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Rein in predatory lenders
  
A lawsuit filed by the state of Colorado against a payday loan company underscores one of the most sistent    problems with the financial-services industry: People who can afford the least often pay the most.

   Believed to be the first of its kind in the nation, the suit is a test case to determine whether payday lending companies are subject to state regulations.

   Though the companies serve some of the same functions as a bank they cash checks, issue loans and collect interest they are not banks in the technical sense. Therein lies the problem and the impetus for a lawsuit.

   Nationally chartered banks are subject only to federal regulation. The National Bank Act preempts state laws that would limit the amount of interest banks can charge and other fees they can collect. Payday lenders including the defendant in the Colorado case, ACE Cash Express Inc. make associations with interstate banks to shield themselves from state consumer-protection laws.

   Since payday lenders are not quite banks, there is a legal doubt about whether they can claim exemption to state laws.

   Payday lenders give out small loans, often between $100 and $500. In a typical transaction, the customer writes a personal check against his or her own bank account for the amount of the loan plus a fee. The loan outlet agrees not to cash the check until the next payday, or for up to 14 days.

   The Colorado Public Interest Research Group reported this spring that the average  payday loan in this state costs $18.79 to borrow $100 for two weeks an annual percentage rate of 488 percent. Colorado law allows payday lenders to charge up to 520 percent.

   The Colorado Legislature took a decisive step toward protecting consumers last year by passing the Colorado Uniform Consumer Credit Code. The law includes provisions for deferred deposit loans a legal term for payday loans. It bars lenders from making loans without a state license, limits fees and finance charges, and requires lenders to reduce rates for renewed loans.

   Payday lenders are like scavengers in a hungry financial-services industry. They lure in people in who are desperate for cash, pick them clean and send America's most poor into a spiral of debt.

   By passing the law and defending it in court, the state has emerged as a worthy advocate of consumer rights. However, it may be years before any precedent from the Colorado case assuming it is successful helps other states gain a legal right to regulate lenders.

   Ultimately, it's up to Congress to enact laws that protect all consumers from the predatory practices of payday lenders.   


The Daily Times-Call
350 Terry Street, Longmont, Colorado 80501
Telephone 303-776-2244
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Edward Lehman,
 
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Dean G. Lehman,
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Lauren R. Lehman,
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Richard B. Simmons,
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Michael A. Gugliotto,
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Curt Anderson,
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Dale L. Carr,
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Kathy Pias,
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July 18, 2001
Redistricting plan fails Longmont
   A proposal before the Colorado Reapportionment Commission calling for dissecting the community of Longmont in political terms should be defeated.

   The commission is studying ways to adjust political district boundaries following the 2000 census.

   The Longmont area has traditionally had a representative elected by local residents representing them from District 12 in the state House of Representatives. Part of southern Longmont has been represented by District 31.

   The controversial plan, strongly opposed by Rep. Bill Swenson, would "split the city of Longmont in three, diluting Longmont's influence in the state Legislature," Swenson said. "They've drawn and quartered Longmont. The plan currently on the table allows the city of Boulder to drown out Longmont's voice in the Legislature. More than likely, Longmont would be represented by two legislators from the city of Boulder, and that would not be in Longmont's best interest."

   This is not a workable proposal for the Longmont area, and concerned residents should let the commission know immediately of their opinion. A hearing is scheduled for Monday in Denver. Among those planning to address the commission is Longmont Mayor Leona Stoecker, who opposes the Longmont dissection plan.

   Citizens who want to offer their opinion should call the commission at 303-866-6466. Comments also can be mailed to Colorado Reapportionment Commission, 1600 Broadway, Suite 1020, Denver, CO 80202, or e-mailed to LCS.Reap@state.co.us.
 

July 22, 2001
Stand up for Longmont now
   It's time to go back to the drawing board in connection with plans put forth by majority Democrats on the Colorado Reapportionment Commission. The proposal in question would ignore state Constitutional requirements and split up Longmont's representation in the Colorado House of Representatives.  Similar concerns exist about proposals being pushed regarding state Senate representation for Longmont residents.

   It appears that the plans will run counter to law and constitutional direction in Colorado because communities of interest and districts made as compact as possible are the reasonable requirements charged of those making these decisions. To offer a plan that would split representation of Longmont into parts of Boulder would clearly not be in the best interests of Longmont or the surrounding area.

   From its beginnings as a planned community in the 1800s to the dynamic changes of the 1900s and the promise of this new century, Longmont has always been a separate community and willing to fight for its own identity, with its own hopes, dreams and philosophies.  Longmont is not and will not become a suburb of Boulder, Denver, Thornton, Northglenn or any other place.

   Suggestions that there are few political differences or separate needs between Longmont and Boulder are made by people who have been taking in too much sun, among other things.

   What is thought to be normal politically in Boulder is often considered far out of the mainstream of acceptable thought and practice by the rest of Colorado, including Longmont.

   These proposed changes in political districts, which would unnecessarily divide a community geographically and philosophically, could well result in major, long-term and radical departures from normal procedures. There has been very little public input accepted or explanations offered about any of these plans, leading to legitimate suspicions that gerrymandering for political purposes is at the root of the proposals.

   The commission will meet at 10 a.m. Monday at the Legislative Services Building in Denver. Fortunately, the Longmont City Council, Mayor Leona Stoecker and Rep. Bill Swenson have been willing to stand up against the plans to needlessly divide Longmont. The telephone number for the Reapportionment Commission is 303-866-6466; staff contacts are Becky Lennahan or Jill Glaspey at lcs.reap@state.co.us.

   For Web information, go to www.state.co.us, click on General Assembly and go to Reapportionment.

   Comments can be mailed to the Colorado Reapportionment Commission, 1600 Broadway, Suite 1020, Denver 80202.

   Commission members appointed by Colorado Supreme Court Chief Justice Mary Mallarkey are Rosemary E. Rodriguez, chairman; Jay Fetcher, vice chairman; Kathleen M. Beatty; and Daniel E. Muse.

  Other commission members are House Minority Leader Dan Grossman and Senate Majority Leader Bill Thiebaut.

   Also on the panel are Sen. Mark Hillman, designated by Senate Minority Leader John Andrews; Rep. Mark Paschall, designated by House Speaker Doug Dean; and the following three members appointed by Gov. Bill Owens: Larry Trujillo Sr., Jeffrey M. Wells and Heather M. Witwer.

July, 26, 2001
Keep fighting for Longmont
   Residents of Longmont and the surrounding area need to know that this area is in a major struggle to retain     independent political identity because of proposals being discussed before the Colorado Reapportionment Commission.

   Area residents are rising to the challenge, and your voice is being heard. No final decisions have been made, but it appears progress was made Monday in tentatively keeping Longmont largely in one state House of Representatives district. A smaller part of the city could like now be in an adjoining district because of population reasons.

   Longmont Mayor Leona Stoecker, state Rep. Bill Swenson, R-Longmont, and the Longmont City Council, as well as many others, are working to keep Longmont intact. They are resisting efforts to be lumped in with Boulder in the selection of either state representatives or senators.

   It would seem out of fairness, too, that Boulder should be largely kept intact whenever possible. If there must be combining with another area in the county, Longmont-area residents clearly seem to prefer Lafayette and Louisville as a community of interest rather than the city of Boulder.

   It was distressing to hear the Boulder County commissioners through their paid lobbyist deliver a speech before the panel and argue against the articulate and well-thought-out position advanced by the Longmont mayor and City Council on the question of Longmont's House boundary.

   Addressing the panel meeting in a packed and sweltering hearing room in a building across 14th Avenue from the state Capitol, Mayor Stoecker made what was perhaps the finest speech of her years in office. She eloquently told the story of Longmont and its citizens, while speaking of the need to keep the city together as much as possible.

   On Monday, the Reapportionment Commission wisely referred to a subcommittee proposals for state Senate districts for Longmont and Boulder County as well as other areas.

   One proposal by Sen. Bill Thiebaut, D-Pueblo, carved up Longmont like a Thanksgiving turkey and put a large part of it on the plate of a Boulder-based district. Fortunately so far the plan has not garnered the support of  the panel. Commission members Jeffrey M. Wells and Heather M. Witwer wanted to know why Longmont was treated this way when it was not necessary at all.

   Longmont, you and your community are in the middle of a significant political battle that will largely determine the fate of representation of your community for the next 10 years, until the next census is taken.

   Continue to speak out, write and call. You are making a difference. Your opinion does and will count. Commission Chairwoman Rosemary E. Rodriguez said she believes the panel should listen to the residents of Longmont.

   The next meeting is Aug. 8 at the Legislative Services Building in Denver, just across 14th Avenue from the State Capitol. The meeting is scheduled to start at 10 a.m.

   The telephone number for the commission is 303-866-6466. The mailing address is Colorado Reapportionment Commission, 1600 Broadway, Suite 1020, Denver 80202. The e-mail address is lcs.reap@state.co.us

   Keep fighting, Longmont. Never give up.   

On the Net:

 Colorado Reapportionment Commission: www.state.co.us/gov_dir/reap/reapp_index.htm

 

Letters welcome

The Daily Times-Call encourages its readers to share their views on matters of importance in our communities, state, nation and world. Short letters, about one typewritten, double-spaced page, on timely topics are given preference. The Times-Call will print as many letters as space allows. They should be addressed to Open Forum, P.O. Box 299, Longmont, CO 80502; or e-mailed to opinion@times-call.com.

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