Missouri payday loan initiative faces legal challenges

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September 14, 2011

By Bailey Ludlam


JEFFERSON CITY, Missouri: Days after being cleared for petition circulation, two lawsuits were filed against the proposed Missouri Payday Loan Initiative; one by supporters and one by opponents.

Cleared in mid-August, the proposed initiative for the 2012 ballot calls for limiting "the annual rate of interest, fees, and finance charges for payday, title, installment, and consumer credit loans and prohibit such lenders from using other transactions to avoid the rate limit."

A lawsuit was filed on August 18 in Cole County Circuit Court. The lawsuit argues that the ballot summary is "inadequate and unfair." Additionally, the suit notes that the cost estimate does not address all possible costs.[1]

According to reports, the plaintiff is John Prentzler, director of auto operations at AutoStart USA. Prentzler is represented by Kansas City attorney Todd Graves and Jefferson City attorney Chuck Hatfield.[2]

Specifically the lawsuit highlights that the lengthier fiscal note attached to the measure outlines a gloomier economic impact than what is outlined in the ballot language. State estimates say that the measure could cost the state between $2.5 - $3.5 million, however, plaintiffs point to a report by a University of Missouri economics professor and former director of the Show-Me Institute that argues that the impact could be approximately $57 million in the first year should the measure be approved.[2]

A second lawsuit was filed on August 19 in Cole County Circuit Court. Contrary to the lawsuit filed by critics of the measure, the second lawsuit was filed by proponents. They argue that the fiscal note ignores testimony by state and local agencies that found that the proposed measure would have no cost on their budgets. Additionally, the suit notes that the fiscal note relies on the expertise of a someone who has testified against the regulations in the past.[3]

About a month later, both lawsuits remain pending.

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