BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — The payday-lending industry has successfully beaten back efforts to add new restrictions on short-term loans in Louisiana, after a measure to put a cap on consumer loans failed to win passage Tuesday in the Senate.
Proponents for more payday-loan regulation argue the short-term loans come with high fees that cause a debt trap for the working class.
However, attempts to toughen regulations on the industry have been rejected in the House and now the Senate, as industry lobbyists have argued the proposals would shutter the storefront lenders.
The measure in the Senate would have limited borrowers to 10 payday loans per year and would have required payday lenders to enter transactions into a database for the Office of Financial Institutions to monitor.
Senators voted 20-17 for the proposal by Sen. Ben Nevers, a Democrat from Bogalusa. But because the bill contained a new fee, the measure needed 26 votes, two-thirds support in the 39-member Senate.
Sen. Robert Adley, a Republican from Benton who co-sponsored the bill, offered an amendment to strip the fee, so that the bill would have a better chance of passing.
"Don't take one of your colleagues and trap him," Adley said.
But Adley's amendment failed in a tie vote.
Senators expressed concern not only over the database, but also capping the number of loans.
Sen. A.G. Crowe, R-Slidell, suggested a cap on fees would work better than telling borrowers how many loans they needed.
So, Nevers offered an amendment that would have put the bill back in its original form, with a cap of 36 percent on the annual interest rate for payday loans. But his amendment failed as well, 17-18.
Senators also had a problem with capping fees, saying it would kill the industry. Sen. Danny Martiny, R-Metairie, said the amendment might as well make payday lending illegal.
Nevers said he wasn't giving up and will try to bring the measure back up for debate this session.
"We're not going to give up on meaningful reform," said Andrew Muhl, director of advocacy for AARP Louisiana, one of several organizations pushing the toughened restrictions.