According to a new poll from PPP, nearly three-fourths of state residents surveyed said they would be less likely to vote for a legislator who supports a new bill that would legalize payday loans in North Carolina.
"It shows the people of North Carolina recognize how (harmful) payday lending is, and it shows they don't want payday lending in North Carolina," said Al Ripley, director of consumer and housing affairs for the N.C. Justice Center, a public advocacy group.
The poll of 600 residents was conducted Feb. 7 through 10 by Public Policy Polling. The margin of error is plus or minus 4 percent.
The survey asked "if your state legislator supported a law to legalize payday lending by increasing maximum interest rates to over 300 percent, would that make you more likely or less likely to vote for that legislator, or would it not make a difference?"
Seventy-two percent reported they would be less likely to vote for that legislator.
Jamie Fulmer — a spokesman for leading payday lender Advance America who also speaks on behalf of an industry trade group, the Community Financial Services Association — dismissed the poll results as a red herring.
>p>"We all know that customers want to pay less for any product, whether it's gas at the pump, milk at the store or short-term credit," Fulmer said in a statement.
"The real question we should be asking," Fulmer continued, "is what millions of consumers think about the cost of a regulated payday loan versus the cost of other options in a competitive marketplace."
Senate Bill 89 calls for bringing back payday loans, which were outlawed in North Carolina more than a decade ago. It has the backing of Senate Rules Committee chairman Tom Apodaca and the industry, which has retained some heavyweight lobbyists to make its case.
— Staff writer David Ranii