Letter: Demand action on predatory loan vendors

Posted 5/23/24

Citizens should express their outrage at these undemocratic processes. Fourteen years is enough time.

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Letter: Demand action on predatory loan vendors


To the editor:

Rhode Island is the only New England state that has not enacted legislation to place a cap on what is commonly called “Payday” loans. These companies prey upon the marginalized in our community, charging up to 260% annual interest locking in a debilitating cycle of debt. This is a problem affecting our community, one of these pay day loan companies has a storefront office located on Metacom Avenue.

Legislation that would cap the interest rates charged in Rhode Island to 36% has been held up in our legislature for over 14 years. It has a strong majority of support by our elected representatives; however, in our state the House Speaker and Senate President control what advances and for years have blocked this legislation from coming to a vote.

You might ask why? After all there is no voting constituency that supports usury.

The answer is simple, and a recurring theme in Rhode Island politics. Former legislators now act as highly paid loan industry lobbyists, and they concentrate their financial donations and influence on those two legislative leaders. The national organization Common Cause rates Rhode Island’s legislative processes as 48th worst in our nation in terms of democracy and the among the worst in terms of the concentration of political donations with the House Speaker and Senate President. These same pay for favor tactics thwart the public interest in other areas where commercial interests have a stake. 

To his credit, last year House Speaker Shekarchi responded favorably to a bold move. Our representatives signed an open letter imploring him to allow a vote to be held. The House acted quickly and passed the bill by a 70-2 majority. Then the Senate took no action.

So far this year it is more of the same. The House Speaker and Senate President have not yet allowed the legislation to advance to a vote despite strong majority support by our elected representatives.

Citizens should express their outrage at these undemocratic processes. Fourteen years is enough time!

You can help by exercising your democratic muscles.

Send an email directly to  House Speaker Joseph Shekarchi (rep-shekarchi@rilegislature.gov) and Senate President Dominick Ruggierio (sen-ruggerio@rilegislature.gov) requesting that they allow a vote to be held on Senate bill S-2141 and House bill H-7211. Send a copy of that e-mail to your senator and representative letting them know that this is an important issue for you and asking that they apply their influence to get a bill passed in this legislative session.

Steve and Kathy Kloeblen
Hope Street

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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.