A short editorial published this week has one Philadelphia city councilwoman scratching her head.
Monday’s edition of the Philadelphia Inquirer included a letter-to-the-editor from state Rep. Chris Ross (R-Chester County), in which he set forth his case for legalizing web-based payday loans and his measure to that end, House Bill 2191.
The short-term, typically high-interest loans, allow customers to secure a cash advance against their next paycheck, almost always to the detriment of the customer, opponents argue.
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court recently ruled to bar companies from offering the loans to residents online. Ross maintained that the ban should be lifted.
With strict regulations, “abusive Internet lenders” would be driven from the state, he maintained.
“Pennsylvanians need a safer, less costly way to address financial emergencies,” wrote Ross. “With my legislation, borrowers will typically see their costs slashed in half, and strict regulation will cut into the profits of abusive Internet lenders, effectively driving them out of Pennsylvania.”
A staunch foe responds
Ninth District City Councilwoman Marian Tasco — who represents West Oak Lane, Logan and Olney — said she just doesn’t understand Ross’ legislative push.
Given the Supreme Court’s ruling, the bill appears to be unnecessary. Not to mention, Tasco said it is potentially hazardous to consumers.
“It doesn’t keep the snowball from gathering snow and you never get out of the morass of debt,” said Tasco.
Speaking before City Council unanimously approved her resolution opposing payday lending, she noted, “the public good is essentially up for auction to anybody who wants to make an offer to buy it.”
Asked about Ross’ newspaper placement, Tasco said, “When you’re trying to pass a piece of legislation you really believe in, I think you do whatever you can to get it passed.”
The measure is not currently being considered by the House Consumer Affairs Committee.