Missouri’s appeal aims to preserve initiative to cap payday loan interest

The Missouri secretary of state’s office plans to appeal a judge’s decision that invalidated the summary it drafted for a ballot initiative capping interest rates on payday loans.

Cole County Circuit Judge Daniel Green ruled last week that the summary that would appear on the ballot and on petition sheets being circulated was “inadequate” and “likely to deceive petition signers.” He also threw out the cost estimate produced by the auditor’s office.

The ballot initiative would cap the annual interest rates on payday, car title and other short-term loans at 36 percent. If the judge’s ruling stands, any petitions gathered to put the measure on the ballot would be invalid.

Following Green’s ruling, the organization pushing the issue — Missourians for Responsible Lending — said the petition drive would continue in the hopes that the signatures would be counted so the measure can appear on the ballot this year.

An official with the secretary of state’s office said the ballot summary fairly and accurately describes what the measure would do.

The ballot summary asked voters, “Shall Missouri law be amended to limit the annual rate of interest, fees, and finance charges for payday, title, installment, and consumer credit loans and prohibit such lenders from using other transactions to avoid the rate limit?”