Michael Lane: Usury

Letter from Michael Lane
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At times, it seems as if Congress is the most dysfunctional institution in the nation; however, the Virginia General Assembly can give them a run for their money. For several years now the leadership of the General Assembly has been faced with a simple question: Should we ban usury and predatory lending in Virginia or protect it under the guise of the free market economy?

Overwhelmingly citizens, local governments, and civic organizations have called for a simple solution: a 36 percent APR cap on all loans with no fees, and every year the General Assembly has sided with the usurers and predatory lenders.

The support of usury in the General Assembly has been bipartisan, with the Democratic-controlled Senate and the Republican-controlled House both standing up for the rights of predatory lenders to prey upon our citizens. It is likely that a large majority of our delegates and senators of both parties support the ban on usury, but the issue remains under the control of the House and Senate leaders who remain under control and in the debt of the predatory lenders.

In the next session of the General Assembly the issue will be raised again by Del. Glenn Oder of Newport News. Unless citizens, local governments, civic, and religious organization speak up and meet with their delegates and senators and give the clear message that usury is not only immoral but should also be illegal and that the legislators must speak up to their leaders, Virginia will be one of the remaining states to allow, and apparently, encourage usury. Citizens and legislators: Don’t let this happen again.

Michael Lane is the cofounder of Virginians Against Payday Loans.

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