Although we share the concerns of activists about the inadequate regulation of payday lenders, we wonder whether a new proposal in Baton Rouge to limit their storefronts is the right way to address the problem.
Metro Councilwomen Donna Collins-Lewis and Ronnie Edwards want to restrict where new payday lenders can open. Their proposed ordinance would ban the businesses from opening within 1,000 feet of existing payday loan stores, pawn shops, churches, libraries, schools, public parks, businesses that sell alcohol, casinos and residential neighborhoods.
The proposal, which affects only payday lenders opening after Sept. 1, also would limit operating hours from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and require businesses to post information about local nonprofit agencies that provide financial education and training programs.
We think this is a misguided approach to a problem that ought to be addressed by the Legislature. The council members rightly are upset that heavy lobbying by the payday lenders, often national businesses, has blocked reform bills in the state body.
The payday loan industry is not properly regulated by the state. The limits on short-term lending that are applied to credit unions and other financial institutions could and should be picked up by the Legislature as a model for reforms.
Yet we wonder whether the council is the proper place for this debate.