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Payday Lending Ballot Initiative Moves on to Signature Verification

The Missouri Credit Union Association (MCUA) has been watching the 2012 ballot initiative process for two reasons: the potential to support consumer friendly provisions in the payday lending ballot initiative (capping interest rates at 36%) as well as whether the process could serve as a future vehicle for credit union legislation in Missouri.

The payday lending ballot Initiative was among four initiatives that received enough signatures to go on the November 2012 ballot. Other petitions with enough signatures to qualify included issues relating to municipal police forces, cigarette and other tobacco products and the state minimum wage. The petition to eliminate Missouri’s individual income tax did not have the required number of signatures.

However, having the required number of signatures does not guarantee the payday lending initiative will be on the ballot. The signatures must be sent to the various election authorities in counties and cities across the state for verification against voter registration records. Petitions that meet the legal criteria will be certified as sufficient to go on the ballot by 5 p.m. on August 7, 2012.

The Secretary of State’s office oversees the ballot initiative process. MCUA asked a representative about pending lawsuits relating to the payday lending ballot initiative. The case relating to whether the state auditor has the constitutional authority to  provide fiscal notes on the initiative is still being appealed. There is another lawsuit pending that says the language that would appear on the ballot does not adequately reflect the legislative language.  The suit states that the ballot language does not include the 36% limit, which is in the underlying language.

In summary, the payday lending ballot initiative must have the signatures validated as being those of registered voters and lawsuits must be resolved in a way that supports the legislative language. The next critical date is 5 p.m. on August 7 for signature validation. MCUA is monitoring the pending lawsuits and will provide updates as the process moves forward.