By BOB JOHNSON
MONTGOMERY, Ala. —
A bill that would regulate loans that use car titles as collateral, while still allowing most of the businesses that issue them to continue operating, was passed by an Alabama House Committee on Wednesday.
The House Financial Services Committee approved the bill known as the Alabama Title Loan Act on a voice vote with only one against the proposed legislation. The bill now goes to the full House for debate.
Opponents claimed the bill does not address what they say are the exorbitant interest rates charged by the industry and would block some people from being able to get any type of loan.
“I’m opposed to getting desperate people in Alabama beaten over the head with high interest rates,” said the Rev. Dan Ireland, former director of the Alabama Citizens Action Program.
The bill’s sponsor, Republican Rep. Lesley Vance of Phenix City, said the title loan industry is necessary because many people take out the loans when they’re in need of financial help or have been in bankruptcy.
The bill offers customers the chance to pay off title loans over time rather than in a month, as is currently the case.
Under the bill, when someone’s car in confiscated for nonpayment, the customer would be returned the amount of the sale over the amount he or she owed.
Another title pawn bill has also been introduced by Democratic Rep. Rod Scott of Fairfield.
Scott said his bill would lower the interest rate charged to 36 percent and place such loans under the regulation to the Alabama Banking Commission.