Staunton Idea Spreads

By: Shane Symolon Email
By: Shane Symolon Email

A payday lending reform idea that started in Staunton is quickly spreading across the state.

A few months ago, Staunton approved a resolution to send a letter to the state requesting a cap on payday lenders.

Staunton City Councilman Bruce Elder says the desire to put a cap on payday loans is spreading.

"We drafted it and I said at the time, this is a pebble in the pond and the ripples, by the time they reach Richmond, will be a tidal-wave," says Elder.

Twenty-one localities have signed on and another 12 have it on their agendas.

Elder says other areas have seen what he has: unregulated interest rates aren't fair.

"It has a secondary effect on cities. When we're trying to build communities from the bottom up, companies that prey on the poor members of our communities are not helping," says Elder.

Delegate Steve Landes says, with this much support, the cap has a chance in the General Assembly.

"There are over 130 localities in the Commonwealth of Virginia, and with 21 signing on, they're showing concern about payday lending. That should get the Legislatures attention," says Landes.

Payday lending reform has gone before the state before and failed. Landes says this time, it’s different.

"Since the General Assembly has met, our federal government has seen to put a similar cap for military personnel. So I think there are a lot of things that have changed since last year," says Landes.

Whether the state takes up the reform right away or not, Elder says he's not giving up.

"I'm not willing to let up till it's done. I'm very confident that we have mayors out there and councils that are anxious to get on it. Every council that’s seen it, for the most part, has dealt with it right away," says Elder.

Landes says he isn't sure whether the state will go for the 36 percent interest rate cap that Staunton and others have asked for. He says it all depends on how the legislation is written.


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