Missouri Supreme Court to Vote on Payday Loan Ballot

Missouri Supreme Court Justices
The Missouri State Supreme Court heard arguments on Wednesday regarding a new payday loan measure that’s going through the state’s legislature.

The measure, which has received the support from many faith-based group leaders, will raise tobacco taxes, increase Missouri’s minim wage, and install an interest rate cap on payday loans if passed into law.

Father Richard Creson of Holy Trinity in St. Louis was one of the measure's supporters. Creson collected signatures on the measure’s ballot in order to get the payday loans cap included into the measure.

“Just the impact that [the payday loan industry] has on low income neighborhoods… I live in one and so I see what this does to support the environment of concentrated poverty,” Father Creson said in a Missouri Net interview.

Payday loans in Missouri can come with annual interest of more than 400 percent, which is what many consider to be “usury.” Usury, according to Father Creson, is a sin.

The Supreme Court has being charged with determining whether or not the measure abides by the state’s constitution.

Attorneys representing the payday loan industry are arguing that the measure contains fiscal notes that are unfair, and consequently subject the industry to unconstitutional restrictions. Those fiscal notes were determined by the State Auditor, which some attorneys say has no business making such notes.

Attorney Chuck Hatfield said that the state auditor’s function is to project financial estimates, not give their input on restrictive fiscal measures.

“There’s absolutely no audit here,” he told Missouri Net.

State Supreme Court Justice Ray Price is set to retire in just a few weeks, but he decided to sit in on this case. Some believe that since this is likely his last case on the Supreme Court bench, Price would want to be a part of the final opinion.

If the court finds the measure to be constitutional, then the public will vote on it in November.