GOP lawmaker voted to let corporations scam poor people


Minnesota state Rep. Sarah Anderson had a chance to help reign in the payday loan industry as it preyed on the vulnerable. She didn't.

Minnesota state Rep. Sarah Anderson had a chance to stand up to companies that take advantage of low-income citizens. Instead, she decided to stand with predatory loan sharks.

The Payday Lending Reform Bill sought to reign in the payday lending industry, which has notoriously imposed massive costs on vulnerable low-income people who seek out their services as a last resort.

When the Minnesota Assembly considered the issue in 2014, Anderson voted against the bill (HF 2293) alongside her fellow Republicans.

The campaign to curb these loans began in the faith community, where a group of citizens at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Minneapolis saw payday loans hurting their fellow members and neighbors.

An analysis by Minnesota's Department of Commerce found that on an average $380 loan, borrowers were paying an additional $397.90 in charges to payday lenders.

Before the bill came up to a vote, Renee Bergeron of Duluth testified before the House Commerce Committee about how these predatory loans have impacted her life. She told the committee that at one point she was paying $600 per month in interest alone for the loans she had taken out.

She explained, "I ended up in a shelter because I couldn't pay my rent."

Polling conducted before the bill came up also showed that over 70 percent of the people in Minnesota wanted consumer protections for the payday loan industry to be strengthened.

State Rep. Joe Atkins, a Democrat, sponsored the bill, and noted the exorbitant fees the industry was allowed to charge people living paycheck to paycheck: "What we're talking about here are rates in excess of 391 percent. Those who take out payday loans should not be treated like second-class citizens."

None of this swayed Anderson, who went against the public and the well-being of her constituents to vote on the losing side and oppose the legislation.

The bill passed, with nearly every Democrat in the House supporting it.