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Movement for Payday

Loan Reforms Grows as
Faith Leaders Hold
Prayer Vigil

Clergy and others call for bill to be passed by the
end of 2017
COLUMBUS - An interfaith gathering of religious leaders from around the state, united to reform
payday loans in Ohio, today offered prayers for borrowers and legislators and asked House
members to hold a hearing on reform measures in the next two weeks.

“Every day this issue isn’t dealt with hurts Ohioans,’’ Springfield Pastor Carl Ruby said. “Every
major faith has tenets that call for us to care for people who are in need. God commands us to
stand with and for people who are being oppressed and predatory lending is a form of oppres-
sion which is destroying families in my neighborhood so, as a church, we won't stop until Ohio
passes a bill that protects them.’’

House Bill 123 would give borrowers more time to repay their loans with affordable payments.
Ohio now has the highest payday loan rates in the nation, with an average annual percentage
rate of 591%. The bi-partisan bill was introduced March 8 by Rep. Kyle Koehler, R-Springfield,
and Rep. Mike Ashford, D-Toledo.

Legislators will return to their districts for summer recess at the end of June and won’t return un-
til September, so there are only two weeks left for the bill to brought up for its first hearing.

“House leadership needs to take the next step in dramatically reducing the cost of payday loans
in Ohio,’’ said Pastor Carl Ruby, director of the Faith Coalition: A Movement for Lending Reform.
“We call on them to schedule a hearing before the legislature breaks for summer. We can’t af-
ford to let this bill languish.’’

Denise Cook Brooks, a single mother from Springfield, told the crowd about her own struggles
with payday loans. She was making about $11 an hour and her car insurance bill came due with
no way of paying.

“I was desperate - I needed my car to get to work - and I went to one of these payday loan
stores and borrowed $300 to pay my car insurance,” said Cook Brooks.

But because of the high interest, she couldn’t pay it back in two weeks so she kept re-borrowing
the money, paying over $600 in fees alone during the nine months it took to pay off the loan.
Eventually she had to move in with her brother in order to pay that back and get caught up on
some other bills.
“I was despondent, suicidal even,’’ she added.

Cook Brooks previously shared her story with members of the Ohio House, including her state
representative, Kyle Koehler.

“We have the highest payday loan prices in the nation,” said Rep. Koehler, co-sponsor of HB
123. “This is not an area where Ohio should be a leader. As they currently operate, these lend-
ers are making it harder for Ohio families to escape the cycle of debt. We can get this passed
and we can return $75 million a year to hard working Ohio families.’’

Rep. Koehler made a point of noting that HB123 doesn’t call for ending payday loans, but would
make them more fair. “This is something we should all care about. We can and must fix this situ-
ation,” he said. “I have had many good conversations with House leadership and Speaker Ros-
enberger about this bill, and I pledge to work with him as we move this measure forward.’’

The Rev. Troy Jackson, executive director at the AMOS Project, offered the first prayer at the
vigil. The Amos Project is a federation of congregations that works for economic and racial jus-
tice, seeking to alleviate poverty in the Greater Cincinnati area. “Payday loan centers prey on
the types of individuals and families we are seeking to help,” said Jackson. “We call on Speaker
Rosenberger to schedule a hearing on the bill soon.”

There are now more than 100 members combined of the faith coalition and Ohioans for Payday
Reform, a larger group that includes faith leaders, veterans organizations, business groups,
statewide agencies and social service organizations throughout Ohio.