Colorado Senate votes against House ‘payday payback’ amendment

UPDATE: House Speaker Frank McNulty backed down on the “payday payback” amendment that charged the last hours of the legislative session. At roughly 6:00 p.m. Wednesday, the House GOP caucus adopted a motion by Rep. Bob Gardner, R-Colorado Springs, to adopt the Senate version of the rules bill without the payday amendment.

The Colorado Senate just voted to pass its own version of the annual rules bill and reject the House version sent over this morning with the “payday payback” amendment attached. The vote was cast on party lines except for Durango Republican Senator Ellen Roberts, who voted with the Democrats against the measure, reportedly because she agreed with lawmakers who have said the rules bill is no place to rehash controversial payday loan industry regulations.

In voting against the House version, Boulder Democratic Senator Rollie Heath said payday regulations rollback legislation had already had its day in the capitol this year, and it was voted down. Heath sponsored the bill, HB 1290, that would have lifted regulations on payday loan “origination” fees but it never made it onto the Senate floor.

On Tuesday, the second to last day of the session, Republicans in the House who have championed the payday cause attached an amendment to the annual rules bill that would strip out the origination fee regulations.

The payday loan lobby has battled regulations from even before they were introduced by Denver Democratic Rep. Mark Ferrandino last year. The regulations passed despite intense lobbying against them. The industry pushed hard as well during the attorney general rule-setting process last summer, to no avail.

Senate Majority Leader John Morse, D-Colorado Springs, said the tactical move spearheaded by House Speaker Frank McNulty, R-Highlands Ranch, put the payday industry above the hundreds of other industries in Colorado that would be affected if the rule review bill, SB 78, were to fail to make into law.

“By taking this bill hostage, McNulty has shown that he cares more about predatory lenders than the well-being of Colorado teachers, oil and gas producers, hunters, the poor or the elderly,” he said in a release. “Frank McNulty is standing up for predatory payday lender organizations while making Colorado citizens feel like they’ve been slapped with a wet leather glove.”

Eddie Stern, communications director for the Senate Democratic Majority, said Colorado energy industry representatives, the state Department of Natural Resources and the Department of Health Care Policy and Financing helped compile numbers on revenue tied to the rules extended by SB 78:

This bill will cost Colorado approximately $800 million from the loss of a full hunting season. Those losses will come from the fees paid for licenses and permits as well as the lost revenue for restaurants, hotels, and other retailers who rely on hunters for a significant part of their business.

The implementation of HB09-1293, which changed the formula for hospital provider fees and made other significant changes to the Colorado Indigent Care Program (CICP), Medicaid, and the Child Health Insurance Program (CHIP). The hospital provider fees alone amount to $795 million in increased revenue for the state that come from federal matching funds and the changes to Medicaid alone resulted in 30,000 new Coloradoans receiving coverage. Undoing these rules will take away health care from some of our neediest people on the Medicaid, CICP, and CHIP rolls.

This will also throw schools and teachers into chaos as their licenses and accreditations lapse and they have to wait for the Colorado Department of Education to rebuild the rules regarding how to renew those licenses and accreditations.

Finally, this will cost the state an estimated $85 million to recreate the greenhouse gas emissions standards that are part of the State Implementation Plan (SIP) for air quality control.

Governor John Hickenlooper has already said he believes the standoff will result in the need for a special legislative session. Estimates put the cost to taxpayers for a special session at tens of thousands of dollars per day.

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