"Last week, I was informed by the executive committee of the coalition that they were pulling back on their legislative activities for the remaining months of the session and they would no longer be utilizing my services," veteran lobbyist
"Obviously, I respect the coalition's decision, but I am also disappointed that compromise language was not put forward this year to move the debate forward," Fischer said.
A seasoned political operative, Fischer said that, in his personal opinion: "Too much focus has been placed on what Speaker [
Fischer was responding to an inquiry from The Journal about his status, just hours before the second, and possibly last, hearing this year on legislation to effectively cap at 36 percent the annualized rates of up to 260 percent charged by the operators of these short-term loan businesses.
Those businesses include
Payday loans are, in effect, short-term loans in which the borrower is charged a fixed-fee for a loan that "must be paid back within a specified time period, typically two weeks,'' according to a summary Advance America gave lawmakers.
The fixed fees mount when new loans are taken out to pay old loans, again and again, though Advance America representative
The spokeswoman for the "reform'' drive,
She said the coalition remains "open to conversations with policymakers and payday lenders about the best ways to keep Rhode Islanders from falling into the debt trap and remains committed to lifting the unfair [rate-cap] exemption afforded to paydaylenders in
Thursday's hearing was a relatively brief replay of past hearings in other years, and a House hearing earlier this year that ended the same way, with the committee voting to hold the bill for further study.
The only significant change in the political environment has been the election of a new House Speaker. Mattiello says he has told the advocates to show him evidence that payday lending has actually hurt people, but is not convinced at this point that the state needs to take a step that could shut down a segment of the lending industry in
Those testifying for the rate cap included
"With unemployment in our state at an unacceptable high, we feel ... the time is now to repeal the special cap rate exemption for payday lenders,'' he said.
But Advance America's senior vice president for public affairs,
"We understand there are folks who don't agree with that and we're always willing to sit down and talk to and try to figure out ways we can find common ground,'' Fulmer said.
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