House Democrats today exercised their constitutional authority to strip the House Financial Institutions Committee of further consideration of payday loan reform legislation and ordered the bill placed on the House debate calendar.
House Minority Leader Paul LeVota, D-Independence, said the extraordinary action to advance HB 2116 in the legislative process was needed after it became clear that the committee is under the control of the payday loan industry, which is adamantly opposed to any restrictions on predatory lending practices.
“The leaders of House Financial Institutions Committee have forfeited the committee’s credibility and rigged the game against consumer protection,” LeVota said. “Since the fix is in, we had no choice but to strip the committee of jurisdiction and put the bill before the full House.”
After blocking the HB 2116 for most of the legislative session, House Speaker Ron Richard, R-Joplin, finally bowed to statewide pressure and referred the bill to committee on March 29. It became readily apparent, however, that the speaker’s choice of committee was intended to kill the bill.
On March 31, House Financial Institutions Committee Vice Chairman Don Wells, R-Cabool, conducted an informational hearing on the payday lending industry to which only industry lobbyists were invited to testify. Wells owns Kwik Kash, a payday loan business.
“Missourians should be concerned at this blatant conflict of interest,” said state Rep. Mary Still, D-Columbia and HB 2116 sponsor. “When a lawmaker uses his position to turn a legislative committee into a booster club for his own industry, it disgraces the entire Missouri House of Representatives.”
Article III, Section 22 of the Missouri Constitution allows 55 House members to remove a bill from committee and place it on the House debate calendar. Sixty House Democrats signed the petition discharging HB 2116. The fate of the bill is now in the hands of House Majority Leader Steve Tilley, a Perryville Republican who determines what bills the House debates.
“If the majority leader fails to bring up the payday loan reform bill, we will know that the industry controls the leadership of not just a single House committee but of the House itself,” LeVota said. “Supporters of reform should urge the majority leader to allow a full debate on HB 2116.”
Wednesday, April 07, 2010
House Democrats strip payday loan bill from Wells committee
In a news release, House Minority Leader Paul LeVota outlined how Democrats removed the payday loan bill from a committee headed by Rep. Don Wells, saying it was clear the committee was "under the control of the payday loan industry." From the release: