Lawmakers Advance Predatory Lending Bill

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Texas lawmakers are advancing a proposal to regulate short-term loans that carry high interest rates.

The state Senate on Monday approved a bill aimed at so-called payday lending. It still must pass the House.

Some of the loans charge in excess of 500 percent interest plus numerous fees.

More than a dozen states ban the loans. Others cap the interest rates. Several Texas cities have adopted local restrictions on the lenders.

Republican Senator John Carona of Dallas has said regulating the loans statewide could save consumers $220 million a year.

But critics in the Legislature have accused Carona of protecting the industry with a bill enshrining only weak restrictions.

Sen. John Whitmire won approval of a contentious amendment that would preserve the right of cities to enact stronger regulations.