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RICHMOND, Va. – Virginia’s general assembly has begun to consider at least three pieces of legislation designed to reform or reign in the practice of payday lending in the state. The Commonwealth began allowing firms to make payday loans in 2002. Previously the practice was little known in Virginia except where a firm had found a way to offer the loans outside of the state’s authority. Since then the number of payday lenders has exploded; 88 payday lenders now offer the short-term loans at over 740 locations statewide. But now at least one legislator has called the 2002 bill a mistake and has said that payday lenders are “predatory lenders.” Del. John M. O’Bannon III, a Republican representing Henrico County says the board of supervisors for his county approached him for help in repealing the 2002 law. “It is predatory lending. There is nothing wrong with saying we made a mistake [in passing the 2002 law],” O’Bannon told the Richmond Times Dispatch. Opponents of the practice point out that North Carolina, Virginia’s neighbor to the south, allowed its payday lending law to expire. O’Bannon said his canvass of his fellow delegates suggested that he lacked the support to kill payday lending outright in the Commonwealth but said that he thought there is support for putting a database into place that would track people who take out payday loans from different providers. Under the terms of the legislation, the database would ensure that no one has more than three loans or has borrowed more than $1,500 at any one time. “This should help keep people out of the downward spiral these loans represent,” O’Bannon said. The Virginia Credit Union League has not taken a position on any of the bills because it does not take positions on legislation directed at other financial institutions.

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