Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

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Florida Groups Concerned Over Possible "Gifts" to Payday Lenders

TALLAHASSEE, FL – The payday lending industry has filed its first bill in the Florida Legislature in nearly two decades, as it tries to fight federal consumer protection rules made during the Obama administration. And those lenders could be getting some help from the Trump administration. 

New leaders at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau announced last week that they will delay imposing new rules for short-term, high-interest loans commonly known as payday loans. Alice Vickers, director at the Florida Alliance for Consumer Protection, said she thinks it's part of an effort to rescind the bureau's most aggressive regulations. 

"I am assuming that this is pretty much a gift to the payday lending industry and that these rules are going to be severely eroded, in terms of the consumer protections that we were hoping they would provide," Vickers said.

Meanwhile, Florida lawmakers have started moving forward with the proposal to revamp payday lending rules in the state, allowing customers to borrow larger amounts of money over longer periods of time.

Vickers said the federal rules that would have gone into affect were so pro-consumer that it scared the payday loan industry into finding ways around them. 

"The payday lending industry has filed legislation at the Florida Legislature to evade the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau rules, and to create a product that would be outside of the reach of the CFPB rules on short-term loans," she said.

Vickers said no one knows what, if any, new rules might come from the CFPB under acting Director Mick Mulvaney. But in Florida, the payday lenders' legislation - House Bill 857 - heads to its last committee stop, and an identical version of the bill, SB 920, is moving ahead in the Senate.

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