(WASHINGTON) House Financial Services Commitee Report: On March 10, the House passed the Senate amendment to the American Rescue Plan Act, sending the legislation to President Biden’s desk #AceFinanceDesk report

#AceFinanceReport – Mar.12: The American Rescue Plan Act contains a number of key provisions authored by Financial Services Committee Democrats

American Rescue Plan Act Contains Key Provisions Authored by Committee Democrats: ‘These include provisions providing $10 billion to support the production of emergency medical equipment using the Defense Production Act, $27.5 billion to support renters, $5 billion to support people experiencing homelessness, $10 billion to support homeowners, and $10 billion to support small businesses’

  • The COVID-19 Medical Production Act – This provision by Representative Juan Vargas (D-CA) provides $10 billion to expand the production of critical medical supplies and equipment to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, using the authorities under the Defense Production Act.

‘In addition, the legislation also includes a provision that provides $15 billion to further extend the Payroll Support Program through September 30, 2021 to fund payroll support for airline workers and related contract workers’

‘See below for a summary of provisions authored by Committee Democrats: Provision providing $10 billion to produce critical medical equipment’

Provisions providing $27.5 billion to support renters during the pandemic:

  • The Emergency Assistance for Renters Act – This measure by Chairwoman Maxine Waters (D-CA) authorizes $21.6 billion for an Emergency Rental Assistance program that allocates funding to states, territories, counties, and cities, including $305 million for U.S. territories, to help renters pay their rent and utility bills during the COVID-19 pandemic, and help rental property owners of all sizes continue to cover their costs.
  • The Emergency Housing Voucher Act – This measure by Chairwoman Maxine Waters (D-CA) authorizes $5 billion for 70,000 new emergency Housing Choice Vouchers to transition people experiencing or at risk of homelessness, survivors of domestic violence, and victims of human trafficking to stable housing.
  • The Coronavirus Housing Counseling Support Act of 2021 –This provision by Representative Cindy Axne (D-IA), authorizes $100 million for the Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation (NeighborWorks) to enable housing counselors to respond to the surge of demand for services, which include foreclosure and eviction mitigation counseling, due to the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The Protect Rural Renters Act of 2021 – This provision, led by Representative Cindy Axne (D-IA), authorizes $100 million for additional rural rental assistance targeted to people who do not currently receive such assistance but are otherwise eligible and also experienced a loss of income of significant financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The Emergency Tribal Housing Assistance Act of 2021 – This provision by Representative Juan Vargas (D-CA) authorizes $750 million to help Alaska Natives, Native Americans, and Native Hawaiians respond to pressing housing needs during the coronavirus pandemic. Under this section, the Indian Housing Block Grant program would receive $455 million, including a $5 million set aside for Native Hawaiians, that can be used to prevent, prepare for, or respond to the coronavirus and to fund eligible affordable housing activities under the Native American Housing and Self-Determination Act. The Indian Community Development Block Grant program would receive $280 million, which can be used to fund activities that address imminent threats to health and safety and are designed to prevent, prepare for, and respond to the coronavirus.

Provision providing $5 billion to support people experiencing homelessness:

  • The Emergency Homelessness Assistance Act – This provision by Representative Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) authorizes $5 billion for the Emergency Solutions Grants program to enable state and local governments to finance housing and health-related services for the hundreds of thousands of people currently experiencing homelessness, including the acquisition of hotels and motels to serve as transitional and permanent supportive housing.

Provisions providing $10 billion to support homeowners:

  • The COVID Homeowner Assistance Act of 2021 – This provision by Representative David Scott (D-GA) authorizes nearly $10 billion to states, territories, and tribes to address the ongoing needs of homeowners struggling to afford their housing due directly or indirectly to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic by providing direct assistance for mortgage payments, property taxes, property insurance, utilities, and other housing related costs.
  • The Stabilizing Rural Homeowners During COVID Act of 2021 –This provision by Representative Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO) authorizes $39 million for the Department of Agriculture to continue providing Section 502 and 504 home loans, which help low- and very-low income borrowers to purchase, repair and rehabilitate housing in rural areas, while helping existing USDA borrowers who are struggling to afford their housing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Provision providing $20 million to support fair housing:

  • Fair Housing Enforcement Emergency Act of 2021 – This provision by Representative Al Green (D-TX) provides $20 million to ensure fair housing organizations have additional resources to address fair housing inquiries, complaints, investigations, and education and outreach activities, during or relating to the coronavirus pandemic.

Provision providing $10 billion to support small businesses:

  • The State Small Business Credit Initiative Renewal Act – This provision by Representative Al Green (D-TX) provides $10 billion towards Treasury’s State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI) to support state, territory, tribal, and local small business programs. This will support up to $100 billion in low cost financing and technical assistance to small and minority-owned businesses harmed during the pandemic and to support a robust recovery.

The American Rescue Plan Act also provides $15 billion to support workers employed by the airlines:

  • $15 billion for a third iteration of the Payroll Support Program (PSP), which ensures roughly 680,000 air carrier workers, as well as additional workers of eligible air carrier contractors, continue to receive a paycheck through at least September 30, 2021:

#AceFinanceDesk report ………Published: Mar.12: 2021:

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UK: ” Government `Care and Support’ Comes at a Cost to the `Taxpayer’ Namely Supporting Insurance Providers `Better Known’ as Private Healthcare”

#AceNewsServices says “UK Governments” way of helping people is making sure they protect their interests by looking after business first and our elderly last.

News Story:

Care needs: financial services industry to develop products to help people plan

Government and Association of British Insurers (ABI) have committed to working together to help people plan for their future care costs.

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Care and Support Minister, Norman Lamb, and the Director General of the ABI, Otto Thoresen, have signed a joint ‘statement of intent’ committing to work together to:

  • help people get the information they need to plan and make decisions about how to pay for their long-term care
  • create the right conditions for a larger market of financial products that will give people more choice

Norman Lamb said:

The current care and support system doesn’t work and is hugely unfair. People face losing almost everything they’ve worked hard for or being forced to sell their family home in a time of crisis to pay for the care they need.

Our reforms will not only stop this from happening but will provide the financial services industry with the certainty it needs to develop products that can help people plan for the future. I welcome this commitment from the industry and am excited to see how this new market could transform the way we pay for our care.

Otto Thoresen said:

The insurance industry can play an important role in developing solutions to help people fund their long-term care needs. We have supported the introduction of a new care funding model, and believe the Care Bill provides a sustainable framework for both industry and consumers.

The statement of intent sets out our commitment to working with the government to create the conditions for the development of an insurance market that offers a range of products to help people meet their long-term care needs.

A number of companies have stated a commitment to developing this financial market and have indicated the sorts of products that could emerge. These include Aegon, Aviva, Legal & General and Swiss Re.

Aviva said:

We stand behind the statement of intent as a great summary of how government and the industry can work together in the best interests of consumers. We are committed to the long-term care market and making sure people of an older age have the peace of mind that being adequately planned and prepared for older age brings.

Legal & General said:

Legal & General is committed to helping government by developing workable financial products to help individuals finance long-term care. Likely solutions will involve a mix of products reflecting different individual and family circumstances.

The government is introducing the biggest reforms to the way care people pay for their care in more than 60 years. These reforms will include a cap on the cost of care to protect people from unlimited bills. They will also give people the option of deferring payments so they aren’t forced to sell their homes to pay for the care they need.

These reforms aim to provide greater certainty about what people will be expected to pay and therefore provide greater opportunity for a new market of care products to emerge. In March 2013 the government asked the financial services industry to lead a review of the market, to identify opportunities for new products and barriers to them being realised.

The findings of this industry-led review have now been published, which marks the first step towards giving people greater choice about how they can meet the costs of their care. Swiss Re said:

Swiss Re feels that the issue of social care is important to the UK community and we are pleased to have been actively involved in the review which led up to the statement. The review identified a number of areas where more work is needed to give people access to appropriate information and advice and more choice about how they meet their care costs.

Aegon said:

The growth of platform solutions makes it easier for individuals to look at all of their assets together on a consolidated basis – pensions, other savings and even housing equity. This will allow people to make the best use in later life of the savings and assets they’ve worked hard to build up.

Read the companies’ full statements on the DH media centre’s news feed.

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#acenewsservices, #aegon, #aegon-uk, #association-of-british-insurers, #care, #financial-services, #government, #insurance, #legal-general, #long-term-care, #norman-lamb, #support, #tax-payers, #uk

“How #Payday #Lenders Fight To Stay #Legal and Still Able To #Lend”

PayDayLenders2#AceDebtNews says tactics by Unscrupulous lenders even leading to people being paid not to sign a petition banning, their type of lending.

It is time to put these types of lenders out of business and prevent their way of #capitalising on people’s #need by making lending so easy, but at a #cost

English: Cash Money - 24 hour payday loan outl...

English: Cash Money – 24 hour payday loan outlet on Yonge St. Toronto, Ontario, Canada (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is another copy righted article, but please spread the article, thanks. Editor

The Payday Playbook: How High Cost Lenders Fight to Stay Legal

by Paul Kiel ProPublica,  Aug. 2, 2013, 8 a.m.

A version of this story was co-published with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

As the Rev. Susan McCann stood outside a public library in Springfield, Mo., last year, she did her best to persuade passers-by to sign an initiative to ban high-cost payday loans. But it was difficult to keep her composure, she remembers. A man was shouting in her face.

He and several others had been paid to try to prevent people from signing. “Every time I tried to speak to somebody,” she recalls, “they would scream, ‘Liar! Liar! Liar! Don’t listen to her!'”

Such confrontations, repeated across the state, exposed something that rarely comes into view so vividly: the high-cost lending industry’s ferocious effort to stay legal and stay in business.

Outrage over payday loans, which trap millions of Americans in debt and are the best-known type of high-cost loans, has led to dozens of state laws aimed at stamping out abuses. But the industry has proved extremely resilient. In at least 39 states, lenders offering payday or other loans still charge annual rates of 100 percent or more. Sometimes, rates exceed 1,000 percent.

Last year, activists in Missouri launched a ballot initiative to cap the rate for loans at 36 percent. The story of the ensuing fight illuminates the industry’s tactics, which included lobbying state legislators and contributing lavishly to their campaigns; a vigorous and, opponents charge, underhanded campaign to derail the ballot initiative; and a sophisticated and well-funded outreach effort designed to convince African-Americans to support high-cost lending.

Industry representatives say they are compelled to oppose initiatives like the one in Missouri. Such efforts, they say, would deny consumers what may be their best or even only option for a loan.

English: Loan payment schedule of a 1-year, fi...

English: Loan payment schedule of a 1-year, fixed-size payment loan with 3% monthly interest. Shows the accumulation of the interest, the payments and how much of the total cost consists of interest. The effective annual percentage rate is calculated. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Quick Cash and Kwik Kash

Missouri is fertile soil for high-cost lenders. Together, payday, installment and auto-title lenders have more than 1,400 locations in the state — about one store for every 4,100 Missourians. The average two-week payday loan, which is secured by the borrower’s next paycheck, carries an annual percentage rate of 455 percent in Missouri. That’s more than 100 percentage points higher than the national average, according to a recent survey by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The annual percentage rate, or APR, accounts for both interest and fees.

Fee Charged: $15

Loan Period: 14 days

Loan Has Been Renewed: 2 times

To renew a loan, borrowers pay only the fees due, not any principal.

The average APR is 23.64 percent on credit cards for consumers with bad credit.

Note: The annual percentage rate accounts for both interest and fees. Sources: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Missouri State Department of Finance, CreditCards.com. Graphic by Sisi Wei.

The issue caught the attention of Democrat Mary Still, who won a seat in the state House of Representatives in 2008 and immediately sponsored a bill to limit high-cost loans. She had reason for optimism: The new governor, Jay Nixon, a Democrat, supported reform.

"DO NOT BORROW FROM PAYDAY LENDERS"

“DO NOT BORROW FROM PAYDAY LENDERS”

The problem was the legislature. During the 2010 election cycle alone, payday lenders contributed $371,000 to lawmakers and political committees, according to a report by the nonpartisan and nonprofit Public Campaign, which focuses on campaign reform. The lenders hired high-profile lobbyists, and Still became accustomed to their visits. But they hardly needed to worry about the House Financial Institutions Committee, through which a reform bill would need to pass. One of the lawmakers leading the committee, Don Wells, owned a payday loan store, Kwik Kash. He could not be reached for comment.

Eventually, after two years of frustration, Still and others were ready to try another route. “Absolutely, it was going to have to take a vote of the people,” she said. “The legislature had been bought and paid for.”

A coalition of faith groups, community organizations and labor unions decided to put forward the ballot initiative to cap rates at 36 percent. The main hurdle was collecting the required total of a little more than 95,000 signatures. If the initiative’s supporters could do that, they felt confident the lending initiative would pass.

But even before the signature drive began, the lending industry girded for battle.

In the summer of 2011, a new organization, Missourians for Equal Credit Opportunity (MECO), appeared. Although it was devoted to defeating the payday measure, the group kept its backers secret. The sole donor was another organization, Missourians for Responsible Government, headed by a conservative consultant, Patrick Tuohey. Because Missourians for Responsible Government is organized under the 501(c)(4) section of the tax code, it does not have to report its donors. Tuohey did not respond to requests for comment.

Still, there are strong clues about the source of the $2.8 million Missourians for Responsible Government delivered to MECO over the course of the battle.

Payday lender QC Holdings declared in a 2012 filing that it had spent “substantial amounts” to defeat the Missouri initiative. QC, which mostly does business as Quik Cash (not to be confused with Kwik Kash), has 101 outlets in Missouri. In 2012, one-third of the company’s profits came from the state, twice as much as from California, its second-most profitable state. If the initiative got to voters, the company was afraid of the outcome: “ballot initiatives are more susceptible to emotion” than lawmakers’ deliberations, it said in an annual filing. And if the initiative passed, it would be catastrophic, likely forcing the company to default on its loans and halt dividend payments on its common stock, the company declared.

"DO NOT BORROW FROM PAYDAY LENDERS"

“DO NOT BORROW FROM PAYDAY LENDERS”

In late 2012, QC and other major payday lenders, including Cash America and Check into Cash, contributed $88,000 to a group called Freedom PAC. MECO and Freedom PAC shared the same treasurer and received funds from the same 501(c)(4). Freedom PAC spent $79,000 on ads against Still in her 2012 losing bid for a state senate seat, state records show.

MECO’s first major step was to back three lawsuits against the ballot initiative. If any one of the suits were successful, the initiative would be kept off the ballot regardless of how many citizens had signed petitions in support.

Threatening letters and decoy initiatives

Meanwhile, supporters of the ballot initiative focused on amassing volunteers to gather signatures. The push started with umbrella organizations such as Metropolitan Congregations United of St. Louis, which ultimately drafted more than 50 congregations to the effort, said the Rev. David Gerth, the group’s executive director. In the Kansas City area, more than 80 churches and organizations joined up, according to the local nonprofit Communities Creating Opportunity.

Predominantly African-American congregations in Kansas City and St. Louis made up a major part of the coalition, but the issue crossed racial lines and extended into suburbs and small towns. Within one mile of Grace Episcopal Church in Liberty, a mostly white suburb of Kansas City, there are eight high-cost lenders. “We think it’s a significant problem and that it was important for people of faith to respond to this issue,” said McCann, who leads the church.

Volunteers collected signatures at Catholic fish fries during Lent and a community-wide Holy Week celebration. They went door to door and stood on street corners.

In early January 2012, a number of clergy opened their mail to find a “Legal Notice” from a Texas law firm and sent on MECO’s behalf. “It has come to our attention that you, your church, or members of your church may be gathering signatures or otherwise promising to take directions from the proponents’ political operatives, who tell churchgoers that their political plan is a ‘Covenant for Faith and Families,'” said the letter.

Please be advised that strict statutes carrying criminal penalties apply to the collection of signatures for an initiative petition,” it said in bold type. Another sentence warned that churches could lose their tax-exempt status by venturing into politics. The letter concluded by saying MECO would be watching for violations and would “promptly report” any.

Soon after the Rev. Wallace Hartsfield of Metropolitan Missionary Baptist Church in Kansas City received the letter, a lawyer called. Had he received the letter? Hartsfield remembers being asked. He responded, “If you feel like we’re doing something illegal, you need to try to sue, all right?” he recalls. Ultimately, no suits or other actions appear to have been filed against any faith groups involved in the initiative fight.

MECO did not respond to requests for comment. The law firm behind the letter, Anthony & Middlebrook of Grapevine, Texas, referred comment to the lawyer who had handled the matter, who has left the firm. He did not respond to requests for comment.

Payday lenders and their allies took other steps as well. A Republican lobbyist submitted what appears to have been a decoy initiative to the Missouri Secretary of State that, to the casual reader, closely resembled the original measure to cap loans at 36 percent. It proposed to cap loans at 14 percent, but stated that the limit would be void if the borrower signed a contract to pay a higher rate — in other words, it wouldn’t change anything. A second initiative submitted by the same lobbyist, Jewell Patek, would have made any measure to cap loan interest rates unlawful. Patek declined to comment.

MECO spent at least $800,000 pushing the rival initiatives with its own crew of signature gatherers, according to the group’s state filings. It was an effective tactic, said Gerth, of the St. Louis congregations group. People became confused about which was the “real” petition or assumed they had signed the 36 percent cap petition when they had not, he and others who worked on the effort said.

MECO’s efforts sowed confusion in other ways. In April 2012, a local court sided with MECO in one of its lawsuits against the initiative, throwing the ballot proposition into serious jeopardy for several months until the state Supreme Court overturned the lower court’s ruling. During those months, according to video shot by the rate cap’s supporters, MECO’s employees out on the streets warned voters who were considering signing the petition that it had been deemed “illegal.”

MECO also took to the airways. “Here they come again,” intones the narrator during a television ad that ran in Springfield, “Washington, DC special interests invading our neighborhoods.” Dark figures in suits and sunglasses can be seen descending from a plane. “An army of outsiders approaching us at our stores and in our streets,” says the voice. “But together we can stop them: If someone asks you to sign a voter petition, just decline to sign.”

Although the ad discloses that it was paid for by MECO, it does not mention payday lending or capping interest rates.

Installment lenders join the fray

Installment lenders launched a separate group, Stand Up Missouri, to fight the rate-cap initiative — and to differentiate themselves from payday lenders.

As the group’s website put it, “special interest groups masquerading as grass-roots, faith-based alliances” were not only targeting payday loans but also “safe” forms of credit such as installment loans. “Stand Up Missouri does not represent payday lending or payday interests,” the group said in its press releases.

Unlike payday loans, which are typically due in full after two weeks, installment loans are paid down over time. And while many payday lenders also offer such loans, they usually charge higher annual rates (from about 300 to 800 percent). The highest annual rate charged by World Finance, among the largest installment lenders in the country and the biggest backer of Stand Up Missouri, is 204 percent, according to its last annual filing.

Still, like payday lenders, installment lenders such as World profit by keeping borrowers in a cycle of debt. Installment and payday lenders are also similar in the customers they target. In neighboring Illinois, 56 percent of payday borrowers and 72 percent of installment loan borrowers in 2012 had incomes of $30,000 or less, according to state data.

World was the subject of an investigation by ProPublica and Marketplace in May. The company has 76 locations in Missouri: Of all high-cost lenders, only payday lenders QC and Advance America have more locations in the state.

Stand Up Missouri raised $443,000 from installment lenders and associated businesses to oppose the rate-cap ballot initiative, according to state filings.

To broadcast their message in Missouri, the installment lenders arranged a letter-writing campaign to local newspapers, placed ads, distributed video testimonials by satisfied customers, and held a rally at the capitol. Like MECO, Stand Up Missouri also filed suit with their own team of lawyers to block the initiative.

English: The Missourians For Secession's offic...

English: The Missourians For Secession’s official label. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Tom Hudgins, the chairman of Stand Up Missouri as well as the president and chief operating officer of installment lender Western Shamrock, declined to be interviewed but responded to questions with an emailed statement. Stand Up Missouri acknowledges that “some financial sectors” may require reform, he wrote, but the initiative backers didn’t want to work with lenders.

“Due to their intense lack of interest in cooperatively developing market-based reforms, we have and will continue to meet with Missourians in all corners of the state to discuss the financial market and opportunities to reform the same.”

“Put a good face on this”

In February 2012, the Rev. Starsky Wilson of St. Louis sat down at a table in the Four Seasons Hotel. The floor-to-ceiling windows reveal vistas of the city’s famous arch and skyline. Lined up in front of him were two lobbyists and Hudgins, he remembers.

The lenders had targeted a community that was both important to their profits and crucial to the petition drive: African-Americans. Wilson, like the majority of his flock, is black.

So were the two lobbyists. Kelvin Simmons had just a few weeks before been in charge of the state budget and was a veteran of Missouri politics. His new employer was the international law firm Dentons, then called SNR Denton, and he was representing his first client, Stand Up Missouri.

Next to Simmons was Rodney Boyd, for the past decade the chief lobbyist for the city of St. Louis. He, too, worked for SNR Denton.

The lobbyists and Hudgins urged Wilson to re-think his commitment to the rate-cap ballot initiative.

Wilson was not swayed, but he was only one target among many. At the Four Seasons, Wilson says, he bumped into two other leaders of community organizations who had been summoned to hear Stand Up Missouri’s message. He said he also knew of more than a dozen African-American clergy who met with the lobbyists. Their message, that installment loans were a vital credit resource for middle-class African-Americans, was persuasive for some. As a result, Wilson found himself mounting a counter-lobbying effort. A spokesperson for Simmons and Boyd’s firm declined to comment.

In Kansas City, Rev. Hartsfield also received an invitation from the lobbyists — but that was not the only case, as Hartsfield puts it, of an African-American being “sent into the community to try to put a good face on this.”

Willie Green spent eight seasons as a wide receiver in the NFL and won two Super Bowls with the Denver Broncos. After he retired in 1999, he opened several payday loan stores of his own and went on to hold a series of positions serving as a spokesman for payday lending, especially to minority communities.

While African-Americans comprise 13 percent of the U.S. population, they account for 23 percent of payday loan borrowers, according to a Pew Charitable Trusts survey. Green was “Senior Advisor of Minority Affairs” for the Community Financial Services Association, the payday lenders’ national trade group, then director of “community outreach” for Advance America, one of the largest payday lenders. Finally, in 2012, he opened his own consultancy, The Partnership Alliance Co., which, according to his LinkedIn profile, focused on “community relations.” Over the past decade, he has popped up during legislative fights all over the country — North Carolina; Georgia; Washington, D.C.; Arkansas; Colorado.

It is unclear who hired Green in 2012 — he declined to comment, and MECO did not report paying him or his company. But to Hartsfield, it was clear he was there to advocate on behalf of payday lending.

Green once penned an open letter to the Georgia’s legislative black caucus arguing that government regulation on payday loans was unneeded and paternalistic: Opponents of payday lending “believe that people unlike them are just po’ chillin’ who must be parented by those who know better than they do what’s in their best interest,” he wrote, according to the Chattanooga Times Free Press.

During their private meeting, Hartsfield said, Green made a similar argument but also discussed church issues unrelated to the ballot initiative. The payday lending industry might be able to help with those, Hartsfield recalled Green saying. The message the minister received from the offer, he said, was “we’ll help you with this over there if you stop this over here.”

Green referred all questions to his new employer, the installment lender World Finance. In a statement, World did not address specific questions but said the company was “pleased to have Mr. Green as a member of its team to enhance World’s outreach to the communities that it serves and to provide him the opportunity to continue his many years of being personally involved in and giving back to those communities.”

Hartsfield did not take Green up on his offer, but the former athlete has served as a gateway to the industry’s generosity before. In 2009 in Colorado, where payday loan reform was a hot topic (a bill ultimately passed in 2010), Green presented the Urban League of Metro Denver with a $10,000 check on behalf of Advance America. Landri Taylor, president and chief executive of the organization, recalled that Green had approached him with the offer and that he was glad for the support. He also said that lending was not a core issue for his organization and that, even if it were, the contribution couldn’t have bought its allegiance.

In Georgia in 2007, Green, then a registered lobbyist, gave a state lawmaker $80,000 a few weeks before the legislature voted on a bill to legalize payday lending. The lawmaker, who subsequently pleaded guilty to unrelated federal charges of money laundering, was one of 11 Democrats to vote for the bill.

After the Atlanta Journal-Constitution broke news of the transfer, Green produced documents showing that it had been a loan for a real estate investment: The lawmaker had promised to repay the loan plus $40,000, but had never done so, Green said. The state ethics commission subsequently found Green had broken no state laws, because lobbyists are allowed to engage in private business transactions with lawmakers.

The case of the missing petitions

By the spring of 2012, supporters of the initiative were in high gear. Volunteers, together with some paid employees, were collecting hundreds of signatures each day. They were increasingly confident they would hit their mark.

In some areas, such as Springfield, the work resembled hand-to-hand combat. Through intermediaries, such as ProActive Signature Solutions, the initiative’s opponents hired people to oppose it.

“It was a well-funded effort,” said Oscar Houser of ProActive. He declined to say which company had retained ProActive. However, only MECO reported spending funds on what it said were signature gatherers. Those employees, according to Houser, eventually focused solely on trying to prevent people from signing the initiative.

Marla Marantz, a Springfield resident and retired schoolteacher, was hired to gather signatures for the 36 percent cap initiative. Just about every day, she could expect to be joined by at least one, and often several, of ProActive’s employees, she says. Wherever she went — the public library, the DMV — they would soon follow. It was a tactic both she and her adversaries (with whom she became very familiar, if not friendly) called “blocking.”

“What we’re doing is preventing them from being able to get signatures,” one ProActive employee says on a video shot by a Missouri State University journalism student. Asked to describe how “blocking” works, the employee says, “Usually, we get a larger group than they have. We pretty much use the power of numbers.” In the video, as Marantz stands outside a public building, she is surrounded by three ProActive employees.

ProActive’s employees did not identify themselves to voters as affiliated with payday lending, Marantz says. They sometimes wore T-shirts reading “Volunteer Petition Official” or held signs urging citizens to “Stand up for Equal Opportunity.”

Marantz shared various photos and videos of her experiences. In one video, a library employee tells a group of ProActive employees they will be asked to leave if they continue to make patrons uncomfortable. At other times, Marantz says, exasperated public employees or the police simply asked anyone collecting signatures to leave the area.

McCann also gathered signatures for the initiative and experienced “blocking.” “I had on my clerical collar, and they seemed to address a lot of their vitriol at me,” she remembers.

In May 2012, Missourians for Responsible Lending, the organization formed by supporters of the initiative, filed suit in county court in Springfield, alleging that MECO, through ProActive, was illegally harassing and assaulting its signature gatherers. The suit included sworn declarations by Marantz and three others who had said they had endured similar treatment. It called for a temporary restraining order that would keep MECO’s employees at least 15 feet away.

MECO, via its lawyers, fired back. The suit was an unconstitutional attempt by supporters of the initiative to silence their political opponents based on alleged “sporadic petty offenses,” MECO argued. Even if the initiative’s detractors “engaged in profanity-laced insults all of the time,” they said, such behavior would still be protected by the First Amendment.

Houser called the suit “frivolous” and said he was happy to let MECO’s lawyers handle it. The suit stalled.

“Blocking” wasn’t the only problem initiative supporters encountered. Matthew Patterson ran a nonprofit, ProVote, that coordinated signature gathering in the Springfield area. On the night of April 25, 2012, Patterson put a box of petitions in his car. Then, realizing he had forgotten his phone in his office, he locked his car and went back inside.

When he returned, his passenger side window was broken and the box of petitions was gone, according to Patterson and the police report he filed. The box had contained about 5,000 voter signatures, about half of which were for the 36 percent cap initiative, Patterson said.

No arrest was ever made. Volunteers from Kansas City and St. Louis converged on the area to recoup the lost signatures. The final deadline to submit signatures to the secretary of state’s office was less than two weeks away.

23,000 over, 270 under

In August, the Missouri Secretary of State announced that supporters of the initiative had submitted more than 118,000 valid signatures, about 23,000 more than needed.

But the state’s rules required that they collect signatures from at least 5 percent of voters in six of the state’s nine congressional districts. They had met that threshold in five districts — but in the First District, which includes North St. Louis, they were 270 signatures short.

A week later, initiative supporters filed a challenge in court, arguing that local election authorities had improperly disqualified far more than 270 signatures. MECO and Stand Up Missouri joined the fray, arguing not only that signatures had been properly excluded, but also that far more should have been tossed out.

Eventually, with only a couple of weeks before the deadline to finalize the November ballot, backers of the initiative decided they could not match the lenders’ ability to check thousands of signatures. They withdrew their challenge.

“It was so frustrating, disappointing,” McCann said. “People had spent hours and hours and hours on this initiative.”

Looking to 2014

The initiative’s supporters now have their eye on 2014, and they have made the necessary preparation by filing the same petition again with the secretary of state.

The industry has also made preparations. MECO has reported adding $331,000 to its war chest since December. Stand Up Missouri has raised another $151,000.

Jewel PatakLast May, Jewell Patek, the same Republican lobbyist who filed the industry’s initiatives in 2011, filed a new petition. It caps annual rates at 400 percent.

The installment lenders have continued their effort to woo African-Americans. In December, Stand Up Missouri was a sponsor of a Christmas celebration for Baptist ministers in St. Louis, and in June, it paid for a $20,000 sponsorship of the National Baptist Convention, hosted this year in St. Louis. It’s retained the same high-powered African-American lobbyists and added one more: Cheryl Dozier, a lobbyist who serves as executive director of the Missouri Legislative Black Caucus. Lastly, Willie Green, according to initiative supporters who have spoken with the ministers, has made overtures to African-American clergy on behalf of World Finance.

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My Debt Reduction Analysis Plan

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Many times l would end up going to court for my clients in the past and finding out, sometimes too late they had paid other less important debts. My usual way to handle this was to approach finance companies and make an arrangement with their creditors! This would enable them to reduce their overall costs and reduce payments, enabling the courts to agree to give them more time to pay!

Over the past few years and having got people out of debt for over 30 years, l have now using my life-time consumer credit licence have put in place a way to roll-up all their debts and reduce their costs under my ” Debt Reduction Analysis Plan ” and providing clients tell me the truth l can offer this service and get all their lenders to come to some amicable arrangement. But l caution anyone using this arrangement to make sure that once they have agreed the amount to pay, do not miss any payments! If they do then all will revert back to previous amount of credit repayments!

Also l do not get people out of debt by borrowing more money like many organisations, as this just adds more debt and leaves clients in a worst place. Anyone need professional help and guidance please visit my website and leave your details, l will try to help!

IMPORTANT: 

For people reading my first post on what my profession is l am licensed under Consumer Credit Licensing Bureau provided by the Office Of Fair Trading under: License Number: 628783 to carry-out the following business:

  • Consumer Credit
  • Consumer Hire

PS: All information on comments gets vetted before approval so that nobody has any personal information shared this protects you under ” Data Protection ” for your privacy.

#debt, #debt-consolidation, #debt-reduction-analysis, #debt-settlement, #financial-planning, #financial-services