TOPEKA, (KSNT)— Kansans paying high-interest rates for payday loans could see some changes with a new bill that’s being introduced.
Reverend Annie Ricker, who leads Berryton United Methodist Church, is one of several members of the community activist organization Topeka Jump calling on lawmakers to push for payday loan reform this session.
“We are seeking to do what other states have successfully done, to cap the interest on these payday loans, make them still profitable for the companies, but also to make them affordable and not exploitative for the people who are taking them,” Ricker said.
Ricker said the bill that’s been introduced is currently under the state’s House Financial Institutions committee, chaired by Representative Jim Kelly, R-Independence.
The proposal would cap the interest rate, which limits the borrower’s risk of rising interest rates, and allows the lender to earn a higher return when rates are low.
It would also create an installment plan for people to pay it back, so they don’t have to deal with what Ricker called “crippling” debt that can take “months” to resolve. She told Kansas Capitol Bureau that she found herself in a similar position when she first moved to Hays and was fresh out of college.
“I didn’t have banking history established in that community, and we had a vehicle repair, and the only lender that we could find to lend us money was a payday lender,” Ricker said. “We took out less than a thousand dollars, but by the time we paid back the loan, we paid over three thousand dollars. It set us up for failure and it cost us far more than it needed to.”
Payday loans are short-term loans that often have high-interest rates and an expectation that the borrower will start paying back the loan on their next paycheck.
Critics of the loans have called them “predatory,” singling out low-income families.
Representatives for other organizations backing the legislation, like Rabbi Moti Rieber of Kansas Interfaith Action, KIFA, said the loans put people that are already at an economic disadvantage “further behind.”
“It takes money out of hard-working poor people’s pockets,” Rieber said.
Ricker is hoping lawmakers will act soon, and take it up for debate this year to help other members of her congregations struggling to pay back these loans as well.