Virginia’s biggest faith-based lobbying groups have mostly separate agendas for the 2007 General Assembly, with priorities that vary from tightening the state’s divorce laws to promoting renewable energy. So reports The Virginian-Pilot.
However, the goals of the Virginia Catholic Conference, The Family Foundation of Virginia and the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy line up when it comes to opposing payday advance loan lending.
“We believe this is a terribly addictive and harmful practice that has been destroying families,” said Victoria Cobb, executive director of The Family Foundation, whose constituents include many evangelical Christians.
A state law lets licensed no fax payday loan lenders charge interest that can reach an annual rate of 391 percent for a two-week loan. Most short-term consumer loans in Virginia are capped at a 36 percent annual rate.
The three faith-based lobbies want legislators to repeal the law so that interest on payday loans would be comparable to other consumer loans.
“We want to make sure families aren’t trapped in a cycle of debt,” said Jeff Caruso of the Virginia Catholic Conference. The conference is the public policy advocacy arm of Virginia’s two Catholic dioceses.
“We have yet to find very many people who think that Virginians should pay more than 36 percent APR interest,” said the Rev. C. Douglas Smith of the Interfaith Center. The organization represents several mainline Protestant denominations as well as Jewish, Muslim and Catholic groups.
Proposed legislation includes HB1684, which would repeal the payday cash loan law in 2009. The bill is sponsored by Del. Jennifer McClellan, D-Richmond.