payday lending

John Bender / RIPR

A non-profit financial group has a plan to help more Rhode Islanders buy cars. State leaders say the service fills a much needed gap.

Before she got her new vehicle, Cranston resident Shirlie Martinez said she and her young daughter worried every day about her 19-year-old car.

“It would be nerve-racking in the morning to know, well, maybe my car won’t start, therefore I can’t go to work, and she can’t go to school.”

Cold enough for ya? We thought so. Give it time, and we'll be complaining about something else. Thanks for stopping by in the interim. As always, feel free to share your tips, thoughts, and to follow me on the twitters. Here we go.

State Senator Dawson Hodgson (R-North Kingstown), the Republican candidate for attorney general joins Bonus Q&A to discuss unanswered questions about 38 Studios, his challenge to AG Peter Kilmartin, his effort to impose stiffer sentences for illegally possessing a gun, and many other issues.


Legislation dealing with payday loans is once again working its way through the general assembly.

This is the latest of several attempts in recent years to curb payday lending in Rhode Island at the Statehouse.

The controversial practice offers quick loans, but they often come with interest rates that can soar to more than two-hundred fifty percent.

At the Statehouse, Representative Frank Ferri, and Senator Juan Pichardo announced they’ll introduce legislation capping payday loan interest rates at thirty six percent.

In Woonsocket Monday, a dedication ceremony will be held for a non-profit that helps people avoid the pitfalls of payday lenders. It's known as the “Capital Good Fund.”

Capital Good Fund is a brick and mortar store that offers people an alternative to high priced payday lenders.  Funded by a 57-thousand dollar grant from the United Way, it expects to help 600 people a year, according to founder and director Andy Posner.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

Margaux Morisseau became a leader in the fight against payday lending after seeing its impact in the Constitution Hill neighborhood of Woonsocket. She works there as a community advocate for a nonprofit agency. This blue-collar neighborhood was once full of boarded up homes, and it has seen a comeback in recent years. But a payday lending shop moved in about three years ago and Morisseau says things have taken a turn for the worse.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

The outlook for cutting the interest rate charged by payday lenders remains unclear after the House Finance Committee Wednesday voted to hold two related bills for further study.  Supporters and opponents describe the issue in completely different ways.

A coalition of nonprofits, faith groups and others has been trying for three years to cut the interest rate charged by payday lenders. They point to how the typical annual interest rate is the equivalent of 260 percent. State Treasurer Gina Raimondo was among those calling payday lending a bad business for Rhode Island.

Kristin Gourlay

Two bills getting a lot of attention this legislative session will go under the microscope at committee hearings Tuesday. Lawmakers will be discussing legislation abolishing straight-ticket voting and restricting payday lenders.

Moderate Party founder Ken Block is leading an effort to do away with straight ticket voting, a practice also known as using the master lever. Block says the master lever sows confusion and gives an advantage to the ruling Democrats in the General Assembly.

Rally Held for Changing Payday Lending in RI

Mar 27, 2013
John Bender / RIPR

Supporters of Payday Lending Reform held a rally at the State House this afternoon.

The legislation would cap the annual interest rate of Payday Loans at 36 percent.  Similar legislation has come before the State House for the past three years only to be defeated.

Margaux Morisseau, the co-chair of the Rhode Island Payday Reform Coalition, believes this year is different.

The debate over payday lending is set to begin anew with a Statehouse rally Wednesday afternoon.  Efforts to reduce the annual interest charged by payday lenders have died on Smith Hill for the last two years.

The mayors of Warwick, Cranston, Central Falls and Woonsocket are expected to take part in the rally being staged by the Rhode Island Payday Lending Reform Coalition.

Pay day loans are capped at $500, and are supposed to be paid back within two weeks. The annual interest rate on those loans can amount to 260 percent.

Welcome back to my Friday column. As always your tips and thoughts are weclome at idonnis (at) ripr (dot) org. Let's get to it.

A report by the Pew Charitable Trusts contradicts House Speaker Gordon Fox's view that clamping down on payday loans would push desperate borrowers to worse alternatives.

During an interview broadcast Thursday on RIPR, Fox called payday loans "a valid tool" for people without other places to turn for money.

House Speaker Gordon Fox sat down this week with RIPR political reporter Ian Donnis to discuss his legislative priorities for 2013 and other issues, including payday lending.

Gordon Fox makes his way to the rostrum after winning reelection
Ian Donnis

House Speaker Gordon Fox is defending high-interest payday loans as a useful tool for borrowers who might otherwise face even worse alternatives.