WisBusiness: Governor vetoes payday loan bill, signs predatory lending restrictions

By Joanne M. Haas

The so-called payday loan bill died Thursday when Gov. Jim Doyle vetoed the legislation, saying it does little to insert consumer protection into the practice that last year snatched $85 million in state consumer fees for out-of-state companies.

“Wisconsin is one of the last states in the country to address the problems associated with the ever-expanding payday industry,” Doyle said during an early morning Capitol ceremony involving 11 mostly financial related measures. “Even with Assembly Bill 665, we would be miles behind most other states. This bill does not go far enough.”

The bill sought to reduce the maximum amount of a payday loan from $25,000 to $5,000, limit the number of roll-over or refinancing times per loan, allow a consumer to cancel the transaction during the next business day and require payday lenders to disclose more information.

“This bill may not have been perfect, but it is much better than what we currently have,” said lead author Rep. Suzanne Jeskewitz, R-Menomonee Falls.

A Department of Financial Institutions study shows the average annual net income of payday borrowers is less than $19,000 and more than half of the loans were refinanced.

Doyle said the bill does little to change current practices, and the provisions limiting the number of consecutive transactions will be unenforceable without a payday loan tracking system. He added he hopes the Legislature returns with another bill that, at a minimum, offers an enforceable rollover limit or payment plan.

Signed into law Thursday was AB 792, known as the predatory mortgage lending measure. The bill creates a regulations for consumer mortgage loans. The Legislative Fiscal Bureau reports about 500 complaints relating to mortgage loans each year are received by the Department of Financial Institutions.

Also enacted were:
— Assembly Bill 793, which exempts all tangible property, such as bank accounts, of a nonresident decedent from Wisconsin’s estate tax.
— Assembly Bill 890, which allows members of a nonprofit corporation to meet by electronic means.
— Assembly Bill 279, which sets competency exam and continuing education requirements for loan originators.
— Senate Bill 320, which puts in place safeguards in annuity transactions involving senior citizens.
— Senate Bill 326, which bans the deceptive or misleading use of logos from a state bank, savings and loan or credit union in marketing materials.
— Senate Bill 381, which allows state banking regulators to accept federal regulatory examinations of state savings banks, as allowed in current law for state-chartered institutions.
— Senate Bill 492, which implements the “Uniform Prudent Investor Act” giving personal representatives, trustees, conservators and guardians of estates more investment flexibility.

He also signed into law two measures to implement the Help American Vote Act of 2002, AB 600 and 601.