Payday-loan measure alive as amendment to rules bill

DENVER — A failed measure that would have reversed tighter controls on fees that payday lenders can charge found new life Tuesday in an unexpected way.

On the second to the last day of the 2011 session, Republicans who control the Colorado House tacked an amendment onto an unrelated, routine rules-review bill that would do what was called for in House Bill 1290, which died in a Senate committee Friday.

House Bill 1290 was designed to undo part of a strict new law that placed tighter controls on how much payday lenders could charge. It called for reversing a section of the law that barred lenders from charging a nonrefundable origination fee.

House Democrats argued the change would allow the lenders to charge as much as 300 percent annual interest rates.

Tacking the measure onto the rules-review bill after HB1290 died is a “shameless special interest giveaway in the last hours of the 2011 legislative session,” said House Minority Leader Sal Pace, D-Pueblo.

Democrats said if the payday loan amendment ends up killing the rules bill, all aspects of state government will be affected. For example, they said, it would be impossible to issue hunting permits, and numerous regulating panels would shut down, preventing issuance of permits for oil and gas development and licenses for doctors and nurses.

Even Gov. John Hickenlooper weighed in against the amendment, something he hasn’t done on a bill going through the Legislature since taking office in January.

“The governor feels strongly that it’s irresponsible to play games with this bill ... Holding up this bill is not good government,”  said Hickenlooper’s press secretary, Eric Brown. “Payday lending is a separate issue, and one the governor would consider. But using it as a poison pill to play politics is not acceptable.”

The amended measure requires a final House vote today before heading to the Senate, which is not expected to approve the change. As a result, the bill could deadlock between the two chambers, forcing a special session almost immediately after the Legislature adjourns the 2011 session sometime today.



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