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House sends revised loan bill back to Senate

In this file photo, Rep. Susan Herrera, D-Embudo, uses her computer to listen to Cabinet secretaries and legislative economists go over the state’s most recent revenue projections in the House Appropriations and Finance Committee meeting. She is working on legislation that would lower the interest rate caps on small loans. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

SANTA FE — The state House late Wednesday approved a plan to impose new limits on the interest rate that can be charged on small loans, revising legislation that had already passed the Senate.

The revised version of Senate Bill 66 would lower the annual percentage rate cap to either 36% or 99%, depending on the size of the loan.

The current cap is 175%, and the Senate passed a bill that would reduce the limit to 36%.

But Rep. Susan Herrera, D-Embudo, said it was clear that such a low rate couldn’t win enough support to pass the House.

She and four other Democratic representatives crafted Wednesday’s proposal, outlining two caps.

For loans of $1,100 or less, the cap will be 99%. For larger loans, and it will be 36%.

The new proposal picked up bipartisan support and passed the House on a 52-16 vote. But it will have to go back to the Senate for consideration of the House amendments.

Herrera said lawmakers are trying to balance the need to regulate loan practices but also ensure people who need the help can get it.

“This is has been a very difficult year, and families are struggling,” Herrera said. “We know people need these loans.”

If the Senate agrees to the House amendments, the proposal will head to Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham.

If the two chambers can’t agree, they can send the bill to a conference committee to try to work out the differences.

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