The Normal town council passed a resolution requesting the Illinois legislature to consider more consumer protection regarding payday loans. About 40 people, brought together by Illinois People’s Action (IPA), attended the council meeting to support the resolution.
Illinois People’s Action is working with individuals and organizations throughout central Illinois in passing ordinances in other cities similar to the one passed November 14th in Bloomington. The Bloomington City ordinance recommended to Illinois state legislators more regulation of payday lenders, including a 36 percent cap on loans.
Normal councilpersons debated for approximately 20 minutes the merits of passing the resolution.
Councilwoman Cheryl Gaines agreed with sending a letter of concern to the state legislature. Ms. Gaines relayed how she had been witness to how people were taken advantage of by payday lenders. She felt that, with 400% interest, people did not know what they were getting into.
Councilmen Adam Nielsen and Jeff Fritzen were opposed to the council addressing the issue, arguing that it was not the city’s business to take a stand on it. Mr. Nielsen said that the town should stay out of political and ideological questions. Mr. Fritzen argued in defense of payday lenders by insisting that their legitimacy as a service was proven by the fact that they existed and flourished in the economy.
Sensing a possible defeat to the resolution, councilman Chuck Scott proposed a compromise of taking out language referring to specific guidelines, such as the recommendation of a 36 percent cap. The compromise resolution passed with only Nielsen and Fritzen dissenting.
In closing remarks, Mayor Chris Koos addressed the opposition to the resolution, arguing that it was a relevant issue for the town in that it is a community issue and payday lenders are injurious to the citizens of the community.
The members of Illinois People’s Action in attendance were disappointed by the last-minute compromise, taking out support of a 36 percent cap, but felt that the measure was a positive step forward. IPA will continue working on bringing a similar ordinance to surrounding central Illinois cities and towns.