A coalition of veterans, church leaders, and advocacy groups gathered at the statehouse Monday to oppose laws that would expand subprime lending in Indiana.
The bill that narrowly passed the Senate would create two new types of loans with interest rates above the federal loan shark limit for crime. The coalition also says the bill would redefine loan shark hairing, potentially allowing lenders to raise interest rates above the current 72 percent cap.
In 2007, President George W. Bush signed the Military Credit Act, which sets a 36 percent limit on payday loans for active service members of the military. However, Hoosier veterans say the law does not protect them, reservists or the Coast Guard.
Military Veterans Coalition vice chairman Gen. James Bauerle says the expansion of high-yield credit will hurt Hoosiers even more.
“When Senate Act No. 613 goes into effect, I predict Indiana is getting closer, if not no. 1 – the worst state for bankruptcies, ”says Bauerle.
Purple Heart recipient Steven Bramer Jr. says he was hurt by payday loans, and last week a veteran died of suicide after talking about his financial troubles. Bramer’s wife, Megan, says it is easy for veterans like her husband to fall prey to unscrupulous lenders.
“Many of these people have a steady income. They don’t get more than what they get, ”she says. “And life doesn’t care if your car breaks down, your child gets sick, or you have a custody battle. Life doesn’t stop. As I said, it is impossible to live without these loans once you get them. “
Bramer urges the legislature to abolish the bill.
“Many of us fought and bled and died for this country,” he says. “Please don’t forget us. I protected you once, now it’s time for you to protect me. “
The bill awaits a hearing in the House Financial Institutions Committee.