01 November 2010

Montana Ballot Issue 164 Tackles Usury

Initiative 164 in Montana "reduces the interest, fees, and charges that payday lenders, title lenders, retail installment lenders, and consumer loan licensees may charge to an annual interest rate of 36 percent. It prohibits businesses from structuring other transactions to avoid the rate limit. It also revises statutes applicable to pawn brokers and junk dealers." This would be quite a bit stricter than a bill recently passed in Colorado restricting payday lending rates.

Background on Initiative 164, which I support, can be found at Ballotpedia. Supporters and defenders of the measure have spent roughly equal amounts of money on their campaigns, which suggests that the outcome at the polls will be close. But, recent opinion polls in Montana show it headed to victory by a 63-22 margin.

Three other measures are also before Montana voters. A ban on new real estate transfer taxes and a change in the hunting licensing system also have strong support, while question on whether a constitutional convention should be held in the state, which must be placed on the ballot in Montana every twenty years, looks like it is headed to defeat.

Montana voters will decide on the issues tomorrow.

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