Iowa Cities Put Limits on Payday Lenders

June 17, 2013
Associated Press  
payday lending news

Although statewide efforts to limit payday lenders in Iowa have failed, a growing number of cities are approving zoning changes that would make it more challenging for the businesses to open. Cedar Rapids recently became the sixth Iowa city since 2010 to pass an ordinance that abolishes payday lenders from certain areas. Opponents of the industry hope that city-by-city limits will spur the Iowa Legislature into action. While cities cannot cap interest rates, they do have the power to limit business operations by passing zoning restrictions. In Cedar Rapids, payday shops must have a conditional use permit and must be 1,000 feet from churches, schools, day cares, and parks. Since 2010, lawmakers have introduced measures to limit interest rates at 36 percent; but no proposals have passed. "It's been an uphill battle trying to get some more regulations surrounding payday loans," said Sen. Janet Petersen (D-Des Moines), who has introduced related legislation. "The fact that they're organizing more on a community level can only assist us at the state level." Critics say payday lenders target low-income people with few financial options, trapping them in a cycle of debt. An interest-rate cap of 36 percent has been a particular focus because it has become a widely accepted cap for consumer protection on a federal level, a limit far beneath the 400 percent interest rate currently allowed in the state.
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