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Ohio House Passes the Long-Delayed Payday Lending Overhaul

photo of Ohio Legislature
The bill, which passed 69-14, is now on its way to the Senate.

The Ohio House has passed a controversial payday-loan bill meant to close loopholes those lenders use to charge high interest rates. The vote occured as a reported probe into activities involving the former Speaker and payday lending lobbyists continues.

Republican Kyle Koehler says passage of the bill will help many Ohioans who tell him the interest they pay on their payday loans is so high that they can’t afford basics like groceries.

“Another customer I met told me that she has paid $200 for four years out of her Social Security check for a $1,200 loan,” he said.

Koehler notes that’s $9,600 -- eight times the original loan amount.

Let others charge more
But fellow Republican Bill Seitz says people who use those loans want him to vote against the bill, which the industry says could shut down payday lending stores. He says it’s like borrowing $10 today and paying $11 back tomorrow and he used a reference from the '70s sitcom Sanford and Son to make his point.

“The APR on that one-day loan is 3,650 percent. Oh my God. Elizabeth, I’m coming to join you;  3,650 percent? Oh my God. But actually, most of us would think that’s quite reasonable,” he said.

Seitz says the better thing to do would be to allow banks and credit unions to charge higher interest so they could afford to get into the short-term loan business. But in the end, most lawmakers sided with Koehler.

Now in the Senate's hands
The bill passed the House overwhelmingly. The bill now goes to the Ohio Senate. It came out of committee just after former Speaker Cliff Rosenberger resigned -- reportedly related to an FBI inquiry into his travel with payday-lending lobbyists. 

Jo Ingles is a professional journalist who covers politics and Ohio government for the Ohio Public Radio and Television for the Ohio Public Radio and Television Statehouse News Bureau. She reports on issues of importance to Ohioans including education, legislation, politics, and life and death issues such as capital punishment. Jo started her career in Louisville, Kentucky in the mid 80’s when she helped produce a televised presidential debate for ABC News, worked for a creative services company and served as a general assignment report for a commercial radio station. In 1989, she returned back to her native Ohio to work at the WOSU Stations in Columbus where she began a long resume in public radio.