As an Army veteran and a proud Coloradan, I have spent much of my career standing up for those who have served. I am committed to making sure our brave men and women in the military have access to all of the services they have earned and that they are welcomed home with gratitude, respect and opportunity.
Our military personnel are faced with countless challenges in their services, but one pitfall many young service men and women don’t see coming is predatory payday lending. If you visit any military base in Colorado, you are likely to find payday lending storefronts nearby. This is no coincidence. This is their business practice.
Out-of-state, billion-dollar payday lenders in Colorado can currently charge rates that can reach 215 percent interest. The outrageous fees and interest rates that they charge end up trapping families in cycles of debt they can’t escape from. They purposely locate their facilities near bases so that they can prey on service men and women and their families.
Lenders know many young service men and women are just starting out and may be struggling to make ends meet. They market themselves as a quick fix for cash strapped families.
What they really do is mire families even further into debt.
At one point, these predatory loans were trapping so many members of the armed forces in debt it was beginning to negatively affect military readiness and hurt military families. The problem got so bad that the U.S. Department of Defense implemented the Military Lending Act to protect military personnel, their spouses and their dependents from predatory lending practices. This act caps payday lending loans for active duty members at 36 percent.
Unfortunately, this law doesn’t apply to the more than 400,000 veterans in the state. Lenders are still free to charge veterans more than 200 percent on payday loans. That’s why I am voting yes on Proposition 111. Proposition 111 will cap payday lending interest rates for veterans and for all Coloradans and stop the cycle of debt.
Payday lenders drain over $50 million from our economy every year with their high interest rates and fees. They operate with their own special provision of the law that allows them to charge much more for loans than other lenders. They also require borrowers to provide direct access to their bank accounts so that lenders get paid even if that leaves borrowers without money for food or rent.
Lending money at triple-digit interest rates to hard-working veterans and their families is just wrong, and it’s certainly no way to support our veterans. This election season people from all over the state, from different communities and political backgrounds, are coming together to stand up for veterans end these greedy, deceptive lending practices.
By voting yes on Proposition 111, we can ensure veterans have the same protections as active duty members and prevent payday lenders from lining their pockets with Coloradans’ hard earned money. Let’s stop payday lenders from preying on those who have served.