Proposed payday loan law does little, should not pass

With conference report now filed on House Bill 455, the payday lending reform debate moves into its final stages. Though some changes have been made, if lawmakers pass the bill, Mississippi will remain home to some of the most expensive payday loans in the region.

Additionally, the proposed law lacks common-sense improvements for enforcement.

House to vote on payday bill

House Banking Committee Chairman George Flaggs said the House will vote today on whether to adopt payday lending reform to lower Mississippi's 572 percent equivalent interest rate.

The House and Senate conference committee agreed on compromise legislation last week. "I can't write a perfect bill, but I think this bill is fair to both sides," said Flaggs, D-Vicksburg. "I think it's going to be a model."
Opponents questioned the reform, however, saying Mississippi will still be charging some of the highest fees in the Southeast.

Payday loan bill passes in House

Compromise legislation that cleared the House Monday would extend the payday lending industry in Mississippi another 2 1/2 years while lowering the equivalent 572 percent interest rate allowed under current law.

Religious and consumer advocates lined up against the bill, saying it didn't go far enough to protect consumers who get locked in a cycle of debt with payday loans.

Rep. John Mayo, D-Clarksdale, declared debt "the new slavery," prompting Rep. Omeria Scott, D-Laurel, who is black, to stand up in the middle of Mayo's floor speech and object to his comparison.

Payday: Compromise weakens reform

The House vote Monday for payday lending reform represents precious little reform and appears headed to one of those legislative instances in which "victory" is declared over a problem that remains unsolved

The House and Senate conference committee compromise on payday lending legislation last week was a compromise that weakened substantive reforms. Opponents of the compromise legislation questioned the reforms, saying Mississippi will still be charging some of the highest fees in the Southeast.

Gov. expected to sign payday loan bill

Gov. Haley Barbour plans to sign a bill aimed at reducing the 572-percent equivalent interest on payday loans, his office said Monday.

"The legislation has not reached the governor's office yet, but once it does - unless there's some unforeseen problem or surprise in it - Gov. Barbour is likely to sign it," said spokesman Dan Turner.

Last week, lawmakers in the Senate and House compromised on a bill to reduce fees on payday loans.

Religious leaders are urging Barbour to veto House Bill 455.

17,776 apply for Katrina recovery program

South Mississippi’s last Katrina recovery program brought in 17,776 applications for assistance with housing repairs or requests for help with placement of Mississippi cottages.

Coast Housing Director Gerald Blessey said the Mississippi Development Authority expects next week to request proposals from contractors who will complete the work, then be paid by MDA.

Funding for AmeriCorps may end

Government funding for AmeriCorps, a national community service program that provided recovery aid to the Coast following Katrina, may end as Congress approves budgetary decisions for fiscal year 2011.

Recent legislation from the U.S. House of Representatives eliminated all government spending for the Corporation for National and Community Service, the agency which includes AmeriCorps. If the proposed budget is finalized, AmeriCorps would lack the financial support needed to provide disaster response services across the nation.

5 Tips Every Homeowner Should Know to Avoid Foreclosure

If you’re having problems paying your mortgage, you aren’t alone. Across the country, homeowners are struggling to keep their heads above water in a recovering economy. Whether it’s because of a job loss, mounting medical bills, or a home that’s now worth less than you paid, the personal and financial stress of foreclosure can be overwhelming. Here’s what you should know to avoid foreclosure.

Many Hit by Spill Now Feel Caught in Claim Process

BAYOU LA BATRE, Ala. — By October, Tim Nguyen found that his work in a Mississippi shipyard was no longer paying the bills. His hours had been cut back, part of the general ebb of work along the Gulf Coast after the terrible summer of BP.

Mr. Nguyen went to an office of the Gulf Coast Claims Facility, which was set up to administer BP’s $20 billion fund for coastal businesses and residents.

He was told he could not file a claim. A law firm he had never heard of had already filed one in his name.

“I never signed up with anybody,” he said.

Man With $20 Billion to Disburse Finds No Shortage of Claims or Critics

From the numbers alone, you might think Kenneth R. Feinberg would be a popular guy.

Since taking over the $20 billion fund to compensate victims of the Gulf Coast oil spill in July, he has handed out $3.8 billion, with $2.6 billion in no-strings-attached emergency payments and $1.2 billion in final and interim payments. More than a half-million people and businesses have filed claims with the fund, and nearly 70 percent of the claims have been resolved through payment, request for more information or rejection.