Michiganders for Fair Lending collects more than 575,000 signatures, submits 405,265 to place question on Nov. ballot to reform predatory payday loans

LANSING, Mich. – After collecting more than 575,000 petition signatures this spring, Michiganders for Fair Lending submitted 405,625 signatures this afternoon to the Michigan Secretary of State as it seeks to place a question on the November 2022 ballot to reform predatory payday lending practices.

“Payday lenders have been using the lure of quick cash to prey upon vulnerable Michiganders for too long. These extreme interest rate loans are designed to trap people in an endless cycle of debt, and we’re giving voters a chance this fall to fix this problem,” said Michiganders for Fair Lending Spokesperson Josh Hovey.

The Center for Responsible Lending estimates that payday loans drain $103 million from the pockets of vulnerable Michiganders each year. In Michigan, the typical payday loan carries the equivalent of a 370% annual percentage rate (APR).  These terms trap Michiganders in a cycle of debt.  According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, 75% of payday lending fees are collected from borrowers with ten or more loans per year. The Michiganders for Fair Lending proposal is asking voters to approve capping payday loan interest rates at no more than 36% APR.

In explaining the campaign’s thorough signature review process, Hovey detailed that the canvassing team exceeded its goal and collected over 575,000 signatures to ensure a significant buffer.

“The team completed a thorough quality control process, and, as requested and suggested by the Bureau of Elections, we eliminated any petition and any signature that was missing key information or otherwise invalid. After that thorough quality controll process on the 575,000 gross signatures, we are submitting 405,265 valid signatures,” said Hovey.

Payday lenders disproportionately target communities of color and rural communities. Data shows that there are 5.6 payday stores per 100,000 people in Michigan. In Black communities, that figure is 25% higher and in Latino communities the number of payday lending stores is 18% higher. The inequality of payday loan distribution is one of the reasons the Black Leadership Advisory Council recently issued a report to Gov. Whitmer that recommends capping payday loan interest rates at 36% as part of 11 different policy proposals the group put forth to address economic growth and wealth equity for the Black community.

Habitat Michigan’s CEO Sandy Pearson notes that high interest rate payday loans often prevent people from obtaining better housing.

“We see the damage the payday loan debt cycle causes in both rural and urban communities across the state. Too many people are getting trapped into these high interest loans, and it’s preventing them from paying other bills and saving for the dream of home ownership,” said Pearson. “By placing reasonable caps on payday loan interest, we can improve the lives of people across the state so that they can better provide for their families.”

Samika Douglas is a Grand Rapids native whose family has struggled in the past with payday loan debt. She says capping payday loan interest rates will be a lifeline to working people across the state.

“At first, the payday loan seemed like an easy way to cover unexpected bills, but it quickly turned into a trap.. I kept thinking, it should be illegal to lend money at super high interest when they knew I couldn’t pay it back. So what seemed helpful at first was hurting us. The loans became a vicious cycle that other families will be able to avoid once this passes in November,” said Douglas.

If approved by voters in November, Michigan would join 18 states plus the District of Columbia that have capped payday loan rates at 36% APR or less. Voters in Nebraska, Colorado, South Dakota, and Montana all overwhelmingly enacted payday loan rate caps by ballot measure with more than 70% approval.

The 36% APR cap proposed by Michiganders for Fair Lending and used by other states is similar to the national Military Lending Act. That act sets the same interest rate cap on lenders serving active-duty service members and dependents. The national law was passed in 2006 after the military found that payday lenders crowded around military bases were impacting the quality of life of military families.

Next, the Board of State Canvassers will review Michiganders for Fair Lending’s petitions. The campaign is required to submit 340,042 valid voter signatures to qualify for the November 2022 ballot.

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Michiganders for Fair Lending is a nonpartisan coalition of Michigan leaders and community members from all corners of the state. Our coalition of supporters includes faith leaders, military veterans, community groups, civil rights advocates and more. These diverse interest groups are united in their quest to end predatory lending practices. You can learn more at https://fairlendingmi.org/