The Ohio House on Tuesday agreed with the Senate’s changes to a payday lending overhaul, sending the final bill to the governor’s office. Legislators voted 61-24 to approve the legislation, a relatively easy end to a contentious and often surprising political saga.
The bill had no momentum for a year, until former House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger resigned following reports of an FBI probe into his relationship with payday lending lobbyists. Rosenberger has maintained he’s done nothing wrong.
Smith was asked if the bill would’ve passed if not for the Rosenberger investigation.
“I don’t know, I don’t want to speculate on how we got here,” Smith says. “The point is we just made things a lot better for consumers in Ohio.”
The current bill, HB 123, caps all interest and fees at 60 percent and sets lower loan payments based on a borrower’s monthly income. Currently, Ohio boasts the highest payday loan interest rates of any state in the country.
There’s no word yet on if Gov. John Kasich will sign it.
A statement from the Ohio Consumer Lenders Association called the bill an untested, unproven attempt at regulation.
"Time will show that this legislation is not real reform but an effort to eliminate the existing brick and mortar small dollar loan industry and like ill-conceived attempts of the past, consumers and workers in the industry will be hurt by the implementation of HB 123,” the statement said.
But supporters of the bill have argued against this claim by saying similar measures were implemented in Colorado, where many of Ohio's payday lenders also operate.