MEDIA RELEASE: 61 Legislators Betray Working Poor and Military Families

61 Legislators Betray Working Poor and Military Families

RALEIGH (June 3, 2011) – Sixty-one members of the NC House voted yesterday to increase profits for finance companies over the objections of the Department of Defense, all of North Carolina's military base commanders and consumer advocacy organizations.

"They should be ashamed of themselves," said Jeff Shaw, director of communications for the North Carolina Justice Center. "Finance companies can already charge 54 percent APR on these loans. We have people struggling to survive in the worst economy in decades and all these legislators care about is increasing finance company profits while doing nothing to help working families in North Carolina."

In a February 2011 study, the Commissioner of Banks released findings that the consumer finance industry was profitable and concluded that no change to the law was necessary.

Military leaders were also disappointed with the lawmakers who voted to raise rates on consumer loans.

"We are very upset that  these legislators voted to increase finance company profits over the objections of military commanders, who have clearly shown how detrimental this bill will be to mission readiness and the plight of military families," said Brigadier General Paul Dordal (ret.), who is currently a member of the Governors North Carolina Advisory Commission on Military Affairs. "It's a slap in the face to our military leaders and definitely not in the best interests of our fighting men and women."

The 61 votes in favor of the bill included 51 Republicans and 10 Democrats while 40 Democrats and 14 Republicans accounted  for 54 votes against the bill.

“The legislators, particularly the Republicans, who voted against the bill showed considerable courage in the face of incredible political pressure,” said Bob Hall of Democracy North Carolina. “The consumer finance industry handed out $172,000 in campaign donations in the 2010 election, with a focus on Republicans and their top leaders who then pulled out all the stops to move this legislation forward.”

News reports have detailed how Republican leaders have been pressuring Republican members to vote in favor of the legislation.

"We will continue to fight this bill," said Al Ripley, Director of Consumer Affairs at the North Carolina Justice Center. "We will continue our opposition in the Senate, and we will stop this legislation."

The bill is opposed by the Department of Defense, all NC military base commanders, Attorney General Roy Cooper, and Gov. Beverly Perdue. The Governor's Office released a statement yesterday saying:

"The General Assembly should listen to the top leaders of the Pentagon and the leadership of our North Carolina military bases and vote against the current version of House Bill 810. This legislation will expose our men and women in uniform and their families to high cost financial obligations and potentially predatory lending practices."

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT: Jeff Shaw, NC Justice Center, (503) 551-3615; Al Ripley, NC Justice Center, (919) 274-8245.