State Representative Drew Springer, originally from Münster, part of my diocese, the Diocese of Fort Worth, introduced a bill that destroys the dignity and respect of the little ones among us: the poor and the working poor.
This bill violates the classic principle of subsidiarity, according to which government decisions are best taken by those closest to those affected by the decisions. In political terms, this could translate into legislation by consent of the governed.
Instead, this bill uses legal double talk to allow predatory payday lenders to operate in the state of Texas without any liability.
House Bill 3899, misleadingly titled “Encouraging Interstate Commerce,” prohibits cities in Texas from doing what Representative Springer and his fellow Representatives have not done in years: regulate payday lenders.
Unfortunately, the City of Fort Worth has yet to pass such a responsible ordinance.
The most horrific article of the deceptive bill is that “the governing body of a municipality cannot pass or enforce a police ordinance, rule or regulation that imposes a restriction, condition or regulation on the law. ‘commercial activity “.
HB 3899 is extremely broad and has the potential to impact a wide variety of local ordinances that address important issues in our communities, not the least of which is the Local Payday Loan Ordinance.
I recognize that it is legitimate to protect the livelihoods of working Texans; It is precisely this concern that prompts my brother bishops and I to oppose this bill.
Bishops have worked for years in partnership with local officials, other religious leaders and community organizations to combat the abusive practices of payday lenders and auto title lenders. Passage of this bill would directly undermine this work of local community leaders.
Payday loan and auto title store windows flood malls and neighborhoods. Our parishes and Catholic charities are witnessing the high cost of being poor every day as we help families who are alarmingly forced into debt to cover unexpected expenses. As a result, we are working to reduce these loans for the sake of human dignity, the poor and vulnerable, and the common good.
Payday loans attack people who are doing their best to make a meaningful and financially responsible contribution to the common good of society.
Forty-five cities in Texas have ended the financial devastation inflicted by payday lenders by enacting local ordinances to establish a basis of fair market practices for payday loans and auto titles. These orders:
- were adopted with substantial input from local communities.
- Were adopted in response to damage to Texans and local economies.
- Have been disputed and confirmed by the courts of Texas.
These orders remain on a solid legal basis following the 2015 judgment in Ace Cash Express v. Town of Denton. Representative Springer’s bill would provide a route through which the payday loan industry could reverse reforms and once again drag Texans into a cycle of debt.
The Texas Catholic Bishops’ Conference joins a broad coalition of others strongly opposed to Representative Springer’s bill. The coalition includes the Texas Baptist Christian Life Commission, Texas Appleseed, AARP-Texas, Catholic Charities of Fort Worth and other Catholic charities, United Way of Central Texas, United Way of Greater Houston, United Way of Metropolitan Dallas, Brazos Valley Affordable Housing Corp., the Metropolitan Organization (TMO), Helping Hands Ministries of Belton, the Center for Public Policy Priorities, Dallas Area Interfaith, Faith in Texas, COPS Metro, City Square, IAF Network and RAISE Texas.
Let the Texans help their fellow Texans find a responsible way out of poverty and end the scourge of attrition. Our communities deserve better laws than HB 3899.
Michael F. Olson is the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Fort Worth.