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Payday loan bill passes Assembly committee

MADISON - The Wisconsin Assembly has scheduled a vote for next Tuesday on a bill to regulate the pay-day loan industry. The Assembly Financial Institutions Committee voted 6-to-5 yesterday to ban limit pay-day advances to 600-dollars, prohibit rollovers, and bar the use of auto titles to secure the loans.

But the measure does not include a limit on interest rates. And the National Center for Responsible Lending says the bill is riddled with loopholes, and it's a concession to the industry.

All five Republicans on the panel voted no. They accused Democrats of rushing through a bill written behind closed doors with no public input, in order to sweep Speaker Mike Sheridan's personal troubles out of the headlines. Sheridan (D-Janesville) has admitted dating a pay-day loan lobbyist, and changing his mind about supporting a previous 36-percent interest cap. After yesterday's meeting, Assembly Democratic Majority Leader Tom Nelson (D-Kaukauna) refused to say whether he still supports Sheridan as speaker. And Nelson would not say if he thought a cloud hung over the bill, as Republicans had claimed.

In the Senate, Majority Leader Russ Decker (D-Weston) says they'll decide what to do after it holds a hearing on an alternative plan by Wauwatosa Democrat Jim Sullivan. It includes a higher limit on loans, and a 33-percent cap for late payments. The governor's office says any bill is better than what the state now has. Wisconsin is the only state which does not regulate pay-day loans.