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Remember who votes against cap on loan interest rates

The antics in the roundhouse over the proposed 36 percent interest rate cap – favored by 85 percent of New Mexicans, 260 New Mexico faith leaders and 12 New Mexico cities and counties – could be an incredible silver lining, as long as we keep very close track of who votes against the cap – or to table the bills.

We also need to make sure to document the ridiculous things people say in these sessions.

The Albuquerque Journal already reported on William Verant’s preposterous comment that the bill could destroy these industries.

Obviously, we need to destroy these industries.

One-thousand percent interest loans hurt New Mexicans, and we unquestionably need to destroy these high-cost lenders before they destroy us.

Everybody knows this, which is what makes Verant’s comment so incredible. They take us all as fools.

Many legislators have commented publicly that capping interest rates will hurt our economy. Seriously? All empirical studies show just the opposite, namely that these high-cost loans strip the economy of wealth and keep people from being able to afford what our local businesses sell, including food, cars and other goods.

No wonder local businesses favor the cap.

According to one local business owner, Marc Powell of Recarnation, “the New Mexico Legislature must close the loopholes that allow our most economically vulnerable citizens to be further impoverished by avaricious lenders. The argument that high rates are required is untrue, as our company’s recently announced 36 percent title loan shows.”

Marvin Ginn, executive director of Native Community Finance, adds that his organization “refinanced one woman’s predatory loan from 1,018 percent to 15 percent. She said we gave her life back.”

The bottom line is that everybody favors the cap, except the legislators who have lined their pockets with industry funds.

Maybe this is why businesses think legislators favor lobbyists over the rest of us, as Sunday’s Albuquerque Journal article “State business leaders favor more transparency in campaigns,” reported.

Not only are the cap bills everyone wants being tabled, but a bill allowing for 1,270 percent rates on tax refund appreciation loans has just moved out of committee and is moving forward toward passage.

Speaking of crazy comments, one Democratic legislator at the Business and Employment Committee hearing on tax anticipation legislation said “these loan charges are not too high. Loan businesses have expenses. When I was in the business I paid 6 percent just to have money to lend.”

Is it really OK to charge 1,270 percent for money that cost you 6 percent? The disregard for what the New Mexico public wants is getting more and more flagrant.

Thankfully, we have a powerful remedy. Kick them out of office.

These legislators were elected to represent us, not the lobbyists.

Keep watching New Mexicans. We can report all these facts out during the next elections and elect people who will stand up for us, not the thieves who are stealing our state’s future.

The future is in our hands, and it won’t be long before we can vote them out of office. We won’t forget this and we the people will get the last word.

I am seeing the silver lining right now.

The views expressed in this op-ed column represent the opinions of UNM professor Nathalie Martin and not those of the University of New Mexico School of Law. (Writer subsequently submitted this disclaimer.)

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