Florida Lawmakers Rush Bill Benefitting Big Giving Payday Industry
As Florida lawmakers rush legislation backed by the payday loan industry, a new report by Every Voice Center and Florida Consumer Action Network questions the role the industry’s millions of dollars in campaign cash is playing in the debate this legislative session. The bills (SB 920 and HB 857), which would allow for a higher-dollar version of payday loans, comes after the industry has given nearly $3 million over the past decade to Florida candidates and political committees. The bill could be brought up as soon as Thursday in the Senate Rules Committee.
“Payday lenders trap Floridians in a cycle of debt while draining billions from our state’s residents,” said Bill Newton, deputy director of Florida Consumer Action Network. “Instead of supporting tools and products that would promote financial capability, these lawmakers appear to be doing the bidding of an industry filling their campaign coffers while hurting our communities.”
“A wealthy industry using campaign cash to buy policies that harm vulnerable communities is the perfect example of a political system out of balance,” said Tam Doan, research director at Every Voice Center. “Lawmakers should be focused on doing what’s best for their constituents, not campaign donors. That’s why we need to reform our broken campaign finance system and create a democracy that works for all of us.”
According to the analysis:
- Payday lending interests have made nearly $3 million in campaign contributions to Florida candidates, party committees, and leadership PACs since 2007.
- The top recipient of payday industry cash is the Republican Party of Florida, which has received over $1.1 million in industry donations over the years.
- Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto, chair of the Senate Rules Committee where the bill is headed as its last committee stop, has received $6,000 from the industry.
- On December 4, 2017, the same day the House payday bill (HB 857) was filed with Rep. Janet Cruz listed as a co-sponsor, Cruz’s county campaign received a $1,000 check from Advance America. Other top recipients include legislative leadership and sponsors of the bill.
- The industry has spent an additional $5 million on lobbying to back up those donations.
The bill being pushed by lawmakers would allow payday lenders to offer “installment loans,” which are structured as longer, higher-dollar versions of traditional payday loans. This bill would allow the industry to expand their targeting of vulnerable populations, putting these communities’ financial stability at stake.
The installment loans bill is opposed by a broad array of groups, including the NAACP Florida State Conference, AARP Florida, UnidosUS, and the Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops.
The report on payday industry donations and lobbying is available online at everyvoice.org/payday-florida.
The Florida Consumer Action Network (FCAN) is a grassroots organization which empowers citizens to influence public policy on issues including finance, insurance, utilities, and transportation. Established in 1984, FCAN stands for an America where everyone gets their fair share, does their fair share, and pays their fair share; and where everyone plays by the same rules. Learn more at fcan.org.
Every Voice Center is a national, nonprofit organization fighting for a democracy that works for everyone. Learn more at everyvoice.org.