Missouri Payday Loan Initiative Struck Down

Judge striking down gavel
Last week the language on a major payday loan petition reviewed by the Missouri judicial system was struck down in a court ruling, reported The Associated Press.

Cole County Circuit Judge Dan Green said the wording on the petition was invalid and “likely to deceive” people who agreed to sign the petition. This invalidation brings into question the legality of the thousands of signatures that the payday loan opponents collected in support of their campaign against the short-term lending industry.

“The old signatures can’t count, and they’re going to have to start again with the new language,” argued Kansas City attorney Eddie Greim, according to the AP.

The wording in question was the phrase stating that the measure would “limit the annual rate of interest, fees and finances charges.” Green said it was misleading because it didn’t inform signers what the limit would actually be under the measure.

He rewrote the phrase to say that the measure would “allow annual rates up to a limit of 36 percent, including interest, fees and finance charges."

Despite this setback, however, the payday loan opponents have vowed to continue pressing forward in their fight against the industry.

“We are proceeding at full speed to complete our signature gathering effort to qualify the ballot,” said the petition's supporting group Missourians for Responsible Lending, in a statement. “We are going to go boldly forward to win this campaign.”

Gathering signatures is the first step in turning a petition into law. The group must have the appropriate amount of signatures by May 6, which is the deadline for the secretary of state to review the petition this year.

Missourians for Responsible Lending claim to have gathered nearly 100,000 signatures, which is more than enough signatures needed to qualify their petition. If the court system determines the signatures collected under the unlawful wording are invalid, then the payday loan opponents will would have less a month to reacquire all of those signatures.