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St. Paddy's Day may be a time to drink beers and fill out your tournament bracket, but it's also a time to dress up like

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St. Patrick's Day Battle: Leprechauns and Sharks vs. Caterpillars

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St. Paddy's Day may be a time to drink beers and fill out your tournament bracket, but it's also a time to dress up like a leprechaun or a loan shark and protest predatory lending. A group called the Alliance to Prevent Predatory Lending will be holding two events at the state capitol today to call for tighter regulation of pay-day lenders. (On a related note, read Laura Onstot's revisionist profile of industry leader Money Tree--whose iconic caterpillar is pictured below.)

APPL's goal is to get stronger protections in a House bill that would limit the number of high-interest loans a person could take out in a year and prohibit loans to people who are defaulting on other small loans. APPL is asking that it be amended to create an automatic
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payment plan for borrowers who can't repay their loan by the next payday, and also to create a 30 day "cooling off" period between loans so borrowers won't be encouraged by payday lenders to take out another loan to repay the first.

"People end up in a trap of having to borrow repeatedly," says Charla Neuman, a spokesperson for APPL. Most people can't manage to pay off a loan by the next payday, she says, so they end up taking out more loans--sometimes up to 50 a year.

Payday lenders regularly oppose limits on their lending, arguing that their margins are

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small and that the limits would put them out of business. Neuman says she's not concerned about that, noting that several credit unions--most notably Watermark--have begun offering payday loans, and arguing that states that have eliminated payday lenders have done well. North Carolina and Georgia have gotten rid of payday lending altogether. A New York Federal Reserve researcher says the effects have been bad. The University of North Carolina says they've been good (pdf).

Details on the events:

Event 1

What: Rally including speaker Danielle Friedman, campaign manager for Alliance to Prevent Predatory Lending

When: Payday lending advocates speak at 12:30 p.m. (rally is from 11am to 1pm)

Where: Trivoli Fountain on the Capitol grounds in Olympia

Event 2

What: Advocates, leprechauns and loan sharks push for payday lending reforms

When: 2:00 p.m.

Where: Sundial in front of Pritchard building, between the legislative buildings

 
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