To The Editor:
Even after many phone calls and e-mails this week from the people in his district telling him that they did not want this Pay Day Loan Bill to go through, Chris Ross continued to champion a bill (HB 2191) that is really no more than a way to legalize loan sharks in Pennsylvania. Who is Chris working for?
No fewer than 50 organizations have gone on record as opposing this bill including the Navy –Marine Corps Relief Society, United Methodist Advocacy in Pennsylvania, AARP of Pennsylvania, The Pennsylvania Council of Churches and Community Legal Services Inc., and still, Chris Ross wrote this bill and he was the only Representative to speak from the floor to promote it.
Ross argues that the bill will provide “protections” for consumers, because if the state can’t license these lenders, consumers turn to the unregulated Internet for these short-term loans that can pull them into endless cycles of borrowing at high rates. But this argument is a red herring. Just two years ago our state Supreme Court ruled that out-of-state lenders had to follow the state’s banking regulations. Ross says we can put new regulations on these lenders but the cost to oversee and license these lenders will fall onto the counties. This will be just another unfunded mandate that the counties will have to find the money to implement. Where do you think counties are going to have to turn to get money to oversee these lenders? Taxpayers of course.
Ross says, “Our Banking Department is overwhelmed by enforcing these laws.” Does he believe that we should just legalize everything on the Internet because it is just too hard for law enforcement to manage? Our Banking Department takes in hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines when they bring those lenders to justice. Every time they do, we are sending a strong message to other shady lenders that it is not worth doing illegal business in Pennsylvania. Now attorneys can protect individuals who get caught in these debt traps. but if HB 2191 becomes law there will be no recourse for struggling families. Predatory lending has no place in Pennsylvania and instead of legalizing it we should be prosecuting it.
Chris Ross has stated that he has spent 10 years working to bring Pay Day Loans to Pennsylvania. In those 10 years, weren’t there more pressing issues in Pennsylvania to work on? Instead, he has wasted time trying to fix something that is not broken.
Susan F. Rzucidlo
Rzucidlo is the Democratic candidate for state representative for the 158th District.