Villarreal calls for action on payday loans


The only way for payday lenders to avoid an ever-growing patchwork of local lending regulations in cities across the state, state representative Mike Villarreal, D-San Antonio, warned in a statement. press conference Wednesday, is the passage of a new law that would create a state-wide regulatory framework.

As House deadlines threaten to scuttle Senate Bill 1247, State Senator John Carona, R-Dallas, Villarreal, the Bill’s sponsor and other lawmakers have said that if regulations statewide proposals failed, they would encourage more local governments to join cities like San Antonio, El Paso and Austin in passing ordinances that control lending practices.

SB 1247 offers industry relief from the existing variety of local regulatory orders, in return for state-wide regulations that advocates say would help curb the lending industry’s worst excesses. short term.

The bill has undergone a number of major changes since its introduction. The consumer protection provisions were weakened upon exiting the Senate committee, then significantly strengthened in the Senate before going to the House for consideration.

Now those protections could be weakened again before leaving the House Committee on Investments and Financial Services, whose members have expressed serious reservations about the bill. But reducing protections could put the measure on an uncertain basis when it comes back to the Senate for approval.

After the conference, Senators Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, and Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, who both pushed for stronger consumer protection against abusive lending practices, reaffirmed that if the bill was too weak in the House, he would not pass the Senate.

Ellis and Davis said Carona promised the final version of the bill would include six provisions that supporters say are vital to protect consumers. The replacement for the House committee was missing two last week.

Villarreal, who is chairman of the House committee, told the press conference that he will continue to advocate for payday loan reform after the session ends – traveling to cities in Texas to lobby for more municipal regulation. He said he was currently the only lawmaker on the six-member committee who was inclined to vote favorably on the bill.

Ellis and Davis also pledged to encourage municipalities to pass local lending regulations. Houston is already considering such regulations, and Davis has said she will encourage Fort Worth to do the same.

The press conference could have been an attempt to remind the short-term lending industry that a compromise deal is the only way around local regulations that lenders don’t like. But it could also be an admission that the chances of passing the measure are slim. Villarreal recently wrote about it on his Facebook page.

“After months of work on payday loan and auto title reform, it’s hard to accept that we may not have the voices to move forward with meaningful protections for consumers,” he said, adding that he “was still working to find a way forward.”

During the press conference, Villarreal said he would not pass a weak bill.

“I’m not interested in putting my name on a paper tiger,” he said. “If we cannot pass a meaningful bill at the state level, then cities must be empowered and encouraged to pass ordinances. “

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