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Proposal to regulate payday lending in Abilene fails

ABILENE, Texas - A proposed ordinance to regulate payday lending in Abilene failed after city council members spent four hours on the subject Thursday.

Three council members voted for the proposal and three voted against it, resulting in the measure’s failure.

Voting in favor of regulating payday lending in Abilene were Mayor Norm Archibald and council members Anthony Williams and Kyle McAlister.

Voting against the proposal were council members Shane Price, Bruce Kreitler and Steve Savage.

The vast majority of the meeting focused on those in attendance voicing their opinions.

Those for the ordinance said something needed to be done to protect some of our city’s most vulnerable from extreme interest rates and high fees. 

"Credit cards are regulated by what rates they can charge, [and] banks have rates they can charge. [Payday lenders] need a limit on the rate they can charge," said Lydia Walsh who is for the ordinance.

"Three of my good friends have been caught in the vicious payday loan loop and I've seen them … lose their car [or] have to move back in with their parents at the age of 40-something years old," said Jonathan Storment, who is for the ordinance.

They said payday loans are a trap and that there’s a need for them to be regulated. They say it will help protect those who are extremely vulnerable and it will stop them from paying high interests.  A handful of people explained how they couldn't get out of paying a loan and ended up paying way more then they initially planned.

Those against the ordinance said Abilenians taking out payday loans know what they're getting into.

"I was short on rent quite a few times, if I hadn't gone to loan start, I wouldn't have a house," said Amy Linen, who is against the ordinance.

Some spoke from experience, saying they wouldn't have been able to support their families in times of need without the loans. One individual against the ordinance said a payday loans helped save her husband's life after he had three heart attacks.

Others said payday lenders work with their customers, not against them. Several residents said the issue should be up to the state legislature and not city council.

"Local government’s task is mainly providing main city services, and this seems more of a legislature issue," said Doug Heffernan, who is against the ordinance.

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