The midweek line commences.

* The loan shark enabling legislation came out of House committee today. The loan shark industry has liberally oiled the General Assembly to put small loan interest rates in the hands of the legislature. Not even three months after passage of a constitutional amendment setting the rate at 17 percent, the pigs are at the trough to raise the limit. This bill is intended to allow much higher annual interest rates. It is sure to be unconstitutional, because the loan sharks are following the fatal footsteps of the check cashers and payday lenders in thinking that they can declare something that is interest as a fee and think a court will buy it. The record is clear: the court recognizes interest when it sees it, whether you call it a late fee or renewal fee or shinola. It’s the same old s***. Many lawsuits will follow if the loan sharks prevail with this legislation.


CORRECTION: I got my signals crossed in the original post. I wrote that the bill approved Wednesday was the constitutional override, which will require a 75 percent vote, not the bill with the specific usurious details. Sorry. Also, for now, the bill includes only a few of the many fees the installment lenders originally hoped to see adopted. Their practices in other states betray their true intentions. It is not to serve the working man, but to plunder him.

* The Senate passed the prison reform legislation today 31-0. A much harder time awaits in the House.