Arkansas has been free of payday lenders for nearly four years, after its Supreme Court declared that their triple-digit annual interest rates for short-term loans violated a state law against usury. Now, however, critics of the industry are worried that a new proposal in the Legislature will allow payday lenders to creep back into Arkansas. Interest rates in the state have been set at a maximum 17 percent since 2010, but Sen. Jon Woods (R-Springdale) has introduced a bill that would let the Legislature change interest rates. Hank Klein, president of Arkansans Against Abusive Payday Lending, warned, "If this passed and the Legislature gets to approve rates, with just that 51 percent majority, in the next legislative session we'll be talking about … 35 percent (interest rate) or whatever. They're just getting a foothold in the state. If [payday lenders] really wanted to come into the state and make loans they could come in and make them at 17 percent all day long and not be regulated." They do not, he said, because they prefer interest rates to be much higher. Attorney General Dustin McDaniel said his office is carefully tracking Senate Bill 900, which he said "potentially would make it easier to allow payday lenders to re-enter the state and offer high-interest loans that harm consumers." He indicated that he would not support any action "that could lead to changes in a constitutional usury limit that has been set by Arkansas voters." Woods anticipates a hearing on his proposal in early April, and Klein said Arkansans Against Abusive Payday Lending will be there to oppose the measure. "We accomplished what we set out to accomplish, that was get rid of the payday lenders in Arkansas," he said, "and we don't want to see them come back."