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Congress Advances Repeal of Rule Affecting Short Term Loans

A photo of a Check Cashing Payday Loans storefront.
Andy Chow
Statehouse News Bureau
A new law regulating payday lending in Ohio took effect in 2019, limiting the number and amount of loans a borrower can take, imposing new fee limits, and capping interest at 28%. But a federal rule could've allowed national companies to circumvent state laws.

When Ohio passed a law limiting the fees and interest payday lenders could charge borrowers, most thought it would end the practice that cost people exorbitant sums.

But a federal rule provided a way for short-term lenders to skirt state laws. Congress is now working to repeal the rule.

In a narrow vote of 52-47, the Senate repealed the so-called “true lender rule.”

Three Republicans—Susan Collins of Maine, Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming, and Florida's Marco Rubio—joined Democrats, including banking committee chairman Sherrod Brown (D-OH) who led the effort.

“The payday lenders had not had a loss on the Senate floor, roll call vote in 15 years," said Brown.

Supporters of the rule fear its repeal will cause regulatory uncertainty for national lenders that partner with local entities.

But Brown says it allowed those national companies to avoid state interest rate caps.

“Those sleazy practices that they prey on working families and prey on families where things have gone wrong...their car breaks down., they've lost their job, they turn to payday lenders and they can never get out of it," Brown said. "This will stop that."

If approved by the House, President Joe Biden has indicated he’ll sign the repeal.

Brown is also working to expand a measure that protects active-duty service members from predatory lending practices.

The Military Lending Act caps interest rates on most consumer loans at 36% for active-duty military and their dependents. He wants to see all Americans protected.

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) is working with Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI) to pursue a national interest rate cap on short-term loans.
U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown

“That should apply to everybody. And that's that's our next step in this. Working with Sen. [Jack] Reed (D-RI), a West Point graduate, Democrat on my banking and Housing Committee, who’s led on this, and he and I are teaming up to work on that and we know we're up against the big banks on that, but we plan to win on it.”

A Northeast Ohio native, Sarah Taylor graduated from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio where she worked at her first NPR station, WMUB. She began her professional career at WCKY-AM in Cincinnati and spent two decades in television news, the bulk of them at WKBN in Youngstown (as Sarah Eisler). For the past three years, Sarah has taught a variety of courses in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Kent State, where she is also pursuing a Master’s degree. Sarah and her husband Scott, have two children. They live in Tallmadge.