Texpatriate provides some in-depth coverage of the opposition to Mayor Annise Parker’s proposal to regulate payday lenders here in Houston. The regulations are similar to other cities around Texas.
Perhaps the most vocal opponent of this regulation was Councilmember Dave Martin, the conservative who represents Kingwood and Clear Lake. Councilmember Martin, as your might recall, was the one who first threw cold water on the Wage Theft regulation. Today, he lamented the Payday lending reform as “looking for a solution where there is no problem.”
Meanwhile, Councilmember C.O. Bradford blasted the measure as something that should be solved by personal responsibility, trying to pass off the duty to the borrower. I have to say that I had expected better out of Bradford. Also in opposition was Jerry Davis, as well as Helena Brown (who opposes just about everything).
Perhaps the biggest surprise was that Councilmember James Rodriguez also appeared hostile to the regulations. Given that District I is one of the most vulnerable districts to such usury, it really caught my eye that Rodriguez would take such a position. One may recall that Rodriguez’s close friend and predecessor on the Council, Carol Alvarado, when she ran for the State Senate, was heavily underwritten by the payday lenders. A little cursory research reveals that these same benefactors are supporting Rodriguez’s hand-picked successor, Graciana Garces, in her bid to succeed Rodriguez on the Council. I contacted the Garces campaign and was told that she has not made up her mind on the measure since “she has not studied it.” I find this absurd in no small part, mainly because the ordinance is nearly identical to those passed in other Cities; we have known for a while what it looks like.
And Horwitz is correct. One look at contributions from corporate PACs like Cash America, and one will find some contributions to some of those who aren’t rallying around the ordinance. More telling is the fact that Mayor Annise Parker also accepted some sizable checks from them, but doesn’t seem fazed by that fact as she introduces this ordinance.
The payday lending lobby has grown in influence, even making a play in 2012 by supporting Mitt Romney. Obviously, a few rules that allow for fairness in lending while allowing these corporations to keep their sizable profits, irks them to no end. On top of all of the political contributions, one must ask how much they spend on lobbying these government bodies. Certainly, the people don’t have PACs to defend and protect them.
Obviously, this was just introduced and there will be some negotiation and back-and-forth, much like with the wage theft ordinance. One thing is for sure, I’m glad Robert Gallegos, candidate in the run-off for District I, is on record as being for the ordinance.
KUHF has more.