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Treasurer Cowell wants payday lending bills stopped

State Treasurer Janet Cowell is asking state lawmakers to stop advancing legislation to help the payday lending industry. Cowell, a Democrat, sent a letter to N.C. General Assembly members expressing her opposition to House Bill 875 and Senate Bill 89, especially after working to eliminate the practice seven years ago. "We cannot grow our state economy when citizens are trapped in debt they cannot hope to repay," she wrote in the letter. "We need to keep payday lending out of our state." Read the full letter below.

Document(s):
Payday Lending Letter to General Assembly.pdf

Morning Memo: McCrory concerned about payday lending, GOP activist hired as lobbyist

TODAY AT THE STATEHOUSE: The GOP kerfuffle about sweeping clean state board appointees continues in a House Rules Committee meeting this morning (read more about it below). Gov. Pat McCrory makes remarks at the Council for Entrepreneurial Development Life Science Conference. Senate convenes at 11 a.m. and a controversial measure about control of the Charlotte airport is on the calendar. The House starts at 1 p.m. to consider a bill about using lottery funds for digital education, as the governor pitched in his State of the State address.

McCRORY VOICES CONCERN ABOUT PAYDAY LENDING BILL: The Republican governor is expressing skepticism about a bill to legalize payday lending -- one of the most moneyed efforts this legislative session. From AP: "McCrory spokeswoman Crystal Feldman said Wednesday the governor has objections to a Senate bill that would reinstitute a class of loans of up to $500 for which lenders could charge fees reaching $75. Industry representatives say the government-regulated loans provide a needed credit option for people with nowhere else to go. Feldman says this and similar legislation don't align with McCrory's objective to lessen the financial burden of families. She says high-risk loans put families in danger of incurring debt."

***Good morning. Thanks for reading the Dome Morning Memo -- the tipsheet for N.C. politics. Send tips and news to dome@newsobserver.com. And read much more below.***

Poll highlights opposition to payday lending

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.

AARP opposes NC payday lending bill

AARP of North Carolina has lined up as an opponent of a bill introduced in the state Senate that would revive payday lending.

Doug Dickerson, AARP's state director, recently wrote a letter to the sponsors of Senate Bill 89 urging them to reconsider their stance.

"AARP is concerned about the effect that payday loans have on the lives of indigent senior citizens, struggling families and the cash-strapped unemployed and under-employed," Dickerson wrote. "This legislation would legalize high-interest payday loans that by design keep borrowers in debt."

Dickerson also argues that payday lending is counter-productive from a macroeconomic point of view.

Community group pushes against payday lending bill

Action NC is fighting a proposal to bring payday lending back to the state, asking its supporters to call and write state senators in opposition to a new bill.

The Action NC email uses the example of a Raleigh man who ended up paying $5,000 interest over five years on a $300 loan as a reason the loans should not be legalized.

Payday loans are short-term, high-interest loans that borrowers secure with post-dated checks. The loans get their name because borrowers are supposedly using the money to tide them over until their next payday. Critics say the loans trap borrowers in debt they can't escape as borrowers repeatedly roll them over. The payday industry says the loans can be a vital source of emergency cash.

The state outlawed payday lending about a decade ago, but a new bill backed by a powerful senator, Rules Chairman Tom Apodaca, and influential lobbyists aims to make it legal again.

Morning Memo: What voters want to hear McCrory say in State of State

McCRORY TO SIGN FIRST BILL, GIVE STATE OF STATE ADDRESS: As expected, Gov. Pat McCrory is making the most of an education bill that hit his desk last week, as opposed to another that will cut unemployment benefits. From AP: McCrory planned to put his signature on a law Monday morning in Asheboro that requires the State Board of Education develop by the fall of 2014 new diplomas that make clear a student is ready for college, ready a vocational career, or both. The bill received final approval from the General Assembly last week. McCrory was scheduled to visit Randolph Community College's industrial center for the bill signing. The bill's primary sponsor is from Randolph County.

The bill also tells the state board to look at ways to make it easier to license vocational and technical teachers. The new law fits well into McCrory's campaign platform about public schools preparing students for the work world.

***Thanks for reading the Dome Morning Memo. Apologies for Dome's technical difficulties last week. The blog back in shape now. Click below for more North Carolina political news.

Morning Roundup: Payday lending returns, Raleigh wants limits on sweepstakes poker

A bill would bring back payday lending in North Carolina, even though the attorney general shut them down in 2006. This time, a key senator has thrown his weight behind it.

Raleigh's city council wants to regulate Internet sweepstakes parlors after a judge failed to shut down the operations recently.

Hagan on preventing financial meltdowns

Democratic U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan said this morning that she was disappointed that Republicans have so far blocked a Senate debate on a rewrite of the financial regulations.

"We have got to ensure that the recent financial meltdown never happens again," Hagan said in a conference call with reporters, Rob Christensen reports.

Hagan, a former banker, said the legislation was designed to make the financial system more stable, and avoid the economic collapse that left a half million North Carolinians without jobs.

She said she is working on an amendment that would regulate payday lending nationally, just as state law already does in North Carolina.

Senate Democrats are expected to try to take up the bill a third time later today.

Bill would greatly expand student loan options

MORE LOANS? This summer, the legislature will consider a dramatic expansion of the types of financial aid available to community college students.

North Carolina is one of four states that don't make federal loans, which offer lower rates and more repayment options, available to a large share of its community college students.

Too many defaults on the loans at a campus could jeopardize the college's other financial aid options. Supporters of the expansion say that risk is overstated. (N&O)

NO FEES: North Carolina consumers can continue to miss their payment deadline on small, high-interest loans without incurring late fees.

Lawmakers looking at banking reforms voted Tuesday to study the consumer-finance industry and did not take up the question of recommending legislation that would allow those lenders to add late fees, as industry representatives asked. (N&O)

LESS PRIVACY? Facebook's plan to spread its online social network to other websites could be detoured by regulators looking into privacy concerns that have raised the ire of federal lawmakers. (AP)

Hagan's bill seeks to curb payday lending

LENDERS TARGETED: Legislation being introduced today by U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan would try to rein in payday lenders, who make $40 billion a year by offering short-term loans with annual percentage rates that often average more than 400 percent and, critics say, trap borrowers in cycles of debt. (N&O)

CHIEF WEIGHS IN: Raleigh Police Chief Harry Patrick Dolan has joined an effort to defeat a proposal in Arizona to force police there to ask about the immigration status of anyone they suspect is in the country illegally.

The measure would also allow citizens to sue police and sheriff's departments if they felt they were not sufficiently enforcing immigration laws. The Arizona legislature has passed the bill and sent it to Gov. Jan Brewer, who has not said whether she will sign it into law. (N&O)

HARD OUT THERE FOR A DEM: Cal Cunningham is the only Democratic Senate candidate whose campaign has been flush enough to mount a television advertising campaign for the primary May 4, but all Democrats have struggled to raise money this year. (N&O)

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