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State Sen. Rick Ward III, R-Port Allen, is the sponsor of a controversial high-interest loan bill.

If a poor family needs a loan to make it to the next payday, or to cover an unexpected big bill for an accident or an illness, shouldn’t there be loans available? And is it not patronizing to say the poor can’t make their own decisions about loan products?

That’s the party line on high-interest lending. Louisiana allows lenders vast leeway to make money off those needing smaller payday loans. Why not make this debt trap even more enticing with longer-term loans, like those persistently proposed in the Legislature by Sen. Rick Ward, R-Port Allen?

Fortunately, Gov. John Bel Edwards has wisely decided to call time-out on the expansion of predatory lending in Louisiana.

Edwards vetoed Senate Bill 381, passed by narrow majorities somewhat under the radar this session. The Ward bill would have capped finance charges at 100% of the original loan amount.

Some cap. Lenders could have charged up to $1,500 in fees on a $1,500 loan, for a total repayment of $3,000.

The state's current payday loan system allows lenders to offer a loan of up to $350, due on a borrower's next payday. The most a payday lender can make per loan is $55. 

Lenders that offer the new product created in SB381 would make most of their money off a monthly ''maintenance fee'' worth up to 13% of the original loan amount. For a $1,500 loan, that fee would come out to $195 a month.

This would have been Christmas in June for the predatory lending industry. And if you’ve ever watched “It’s a Wonderful Life” during holidays, Ward was taking the side not of Jimmy Stewart but the avaricious Mr. Potter.

We commend the governor for stepping in. Before they tackle the issue again, legislators should reflect on the damage that this kind of product can do to their constituents in working families.