Pro-payday lawmakers attempt late-session regulations roll-back

DENVER– The payday lending industry isn’t giving up on this legislative session in Colorado. Lawmakers who have failed at several attempts to roll back regulations passed last session limiting high payday interest rates and fees are now reportedly planning to attach to a bureaucratic rule-making bill an amendment that would thin the payday regulations. The legislative session ends at midnight tomorrow.

The bill, Senate Bill 78, is this year’s version of an annual bill that extends all the rules and regulations passed by the legislature. It’s a fairly formal exercise but the bill also includes a list of rules and regulations the legislature chooses not to extend. Rep. Bob Gardner, R-Colorado Springs, is leading the charge for the payday industry, introducing the amendment that would add the payday regulation laws passed last year to the list.

It’s a bold– some would say brazen– strategic move, given that payday industry arguments have been voted down time and again and in light of the fact that there is so little time to debate the issue. Indeed, the point seems to be to avoid debate. House Bill 1290, introduced by Republicans earlier in the session and voted down, also attempted to roll back the origination fee regulations.

Rep. Mark Ferrandino, D-Denver, a sponsor of the payday regulations that passed last year, told the Colorado Independent he wasn’t sure he would have the votes to scotch Gardner’s amendment. He said placing the controversial payday legislation as a rider on the must-pass rule-making bill was dangerous policy.

If SB 78 is not passed, everything from hunting laws to marijuana legislation would fail to be enacted for the year.

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