Pennsylvania Rep. Heffley refrains from criticizing bill related to payday loans

Although most of the Capitol was worried about passing a $32.7 billion state budgeta last-minute push to pass legislation that critics say have legalized a form of payday loan in stores seems to have stalled in committee.

State Rep. Doyle Heffley, the bill’s sponsor, had previously promised amendments to the legislation to address fears from a coalition of interest groups opposing House Bill 2429. This week, a scheduled Commerce Committee vote was abruptly cancelled.

“I’m not trying to sneak anything in,” he said, referring to criticism of the bill, which was not initially scheduled for a public hearing. “We’re still working on the language… there’s a lot going on with the budget this week.”

Heffley added that he had been unable to come up with mutually agreeable amendments to the legislation and that the revisions may not materialize until the fall session.

“He will not do it before the budget is approved. I don’t know that with all that it’s going to be ready this summer,” he said. “I’ve talked to every lobby group that opposes the bill and told them in good faith that we’ll work on it, and we will.”

The bill would have loosened restrictions on loan reference fees in a way that critics say would have created a de facto system for payday loans in a state that has some of the strongest usury protections. strong of the country.

Heffley had previously denied that the bill was intended to legalize payday loans, but had trouble articulating exactly what the purpose of the legislation was.

Democrats speculated that the bill was held up because it lacked support.

“I don’t know why the meeting was adjourned, but having low votes is a reasonable theory,” said Bill Patton, spokesman for the House Democratic Caucus.

Groups like the Philadelphia-based legal aid society Community Legal Services, which had opposed the legislation with other groups, were jubilant that the bill was sticking around for now.

“We are grateful for the Committee members who refused to promote this predatory bill,” said Kerry Smith, CLS Attorney. “We understand that the Committee may schedule a hearing on the bill over the summer. We will remain vigilant in working to keep payday predators out of Pennsylvania.”

However, sources said the payday loan lobby, which had supported HB 2429, was pushing for a hearing over the summer in Philadelphia to revive interest in the bill and speed its passage. final.

An aide to state Rep. Brian Ellis, who chairs that committee, did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday about future hearings.

Heffley said he would be willing to hold public debates on his bill.

“I would not object to a hearing. This bill is not intended to be any type of payday loan,” she said. “People have a lot of concerns about rates, we’re going to work on that.”

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