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Rhode Island Senate refuses to take up predatory lending reform

Photo of screen in Rhode Island House of Representatives showing passage of payday lending reform

“Poverty isn’t simply the condition of not having enough money. It’s the condition of not having enough choice and being taken advantage of because of that.”

Matthew Desmond, Poverty, by America

As they say, there’s good news and there’s bad news.

The good news — amazing, really! — is that last Thursday, the Rhode Island House of Representatives passed by a vote of 70-2 H5160 to cap payday loan interest at 36%. This marks the first time that either legislative chamber brought this important legislation to a floor vote. Thank you to Representative Karen Alzate for her sponsorship of the legislation, Speaker Joseph Shekarchi for putting it to a floor, and all of the representatives who stood up for economic justice!

The bad news is that the Senate, under the leadership of President Dominick Ruggerio, declined to pick up the bill. Yet again, Rhode Island has sent the message that our state is open for unscrupulous and predatory lenders to exploit poor and working class Rhode Islanders by charging exorbitant interest rates and trapping them in cycles of debt while draining millions of dollars in fees from our neighborhoods.

We’re disappointed by the ultimate outcome but encouraged by this year’s progress. We’ll be back next year with the Rhode Island Coalition for Payday Reform to demand action.

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