Payday Lending & Minimum Wage Won’t be on Missouri Ballot

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KANSAS CITY --  Supporters of initiatives to cap payday lending rates and raise the state's minimum wage have given up their fight to place the two measures on the November ballot.

Molly Fleming-Pierre, with Communities Creating Opportunities, said her group collected about 350,000 signatures. That's nearly twice as many as needed but Secretary of State Robin Carnahan ruled many were invalid.  Supporters of the ballot measures say they were told they were about 1,000 signatures short for the minimum wage initiative and 270 signatures short for the payday lending issue.

"We're still confident that we turned in enough signatures to be on the ballot in November but the industry had been very successful at using the legal process to interrupt a citizens process," said Fleming-Pierre.

Fleming-Pierre says the legal hurdles to meet before the September 21 deadline for putting the measures on the November ballot were too tough to overcome.

"So instead of this fight happening out on the street corners, our issues saying our people deserve better than poverty wages and poverty loans, the industry and their big, deep pockets have been successful in putting a nuclear bomb on the courtroom," Fleming-Pierre said.

"The decision to drop the 'Cap The Rate' ballot initiative is a victory for Missouri families who occasionally need short-term, small-dollar loans to avoid more expensive, credit-damaging alternatives such as bounced check and late bill payment penalty fees," said a spokesman for Missouri's Payday Loan industry, Tom Linafelt.

Missouri currently has the highest interest rate cap in the nation at 1,950.00%.  The proposed ballot measure would've capped the rate at 36%, the same as it is in 17 other states.  That's also the same rate military families receive thanks to federal law.

The minimum wage measure would've increased the current rate of $7.25 an hour to $8.25 an hour, beginning in 2013.

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