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Yes vote in November means No to payday lending in Ohio

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One good thing about this article is the pro pdl's do not have enough valid names yet.

Shall Section 3 of H.B. 545 be approved?

If you know the answer, congratulations, you're ready to vote in November to determine the fate of payday-lending interest rates in Ohio.

Confused? Don't worry. It took the Ohio Ballot Board five hours of grinding debates, rewrites and more rewrites to craft the ballot language that ultimately leads to that final, technical question.

After more than four hours of discussion, the board still was trying to decide how to explain to voters the meaning of a "no" vote on the referendum, which Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner termed the "Mount Everest of ballot issues."

"The referendum is very confusing when a yes vote means no," Catherine Turcer of Ohio Citizen Action told the board. "Voters become like Alice in Wonderland at the tea party."

The five-member Ballot Board certified language for the payday issue and, in a less contentious ordeal, certified language asking voters to approve a $600 million c*a*s*i*n*o resort in southwestern Ohio.

Neither issue has officially qualified for the Nov. 4 ballot. Casin0 backers have turned in gobs of signatures and appear likely to qualify, while payday lenders still are collecting the 241,365 valid names they need by Sept. 1.

The payday referendum is complex because it asks voters to repeal a repeal of a current law. The bottom line is payday lenders want to continue charging a 391 percent annualized interest rate ($15 per $100 on a two-week loan), instead of the 28 percent rate approved by lawmakers in late spring.

In the end, Bill Todd, attorney for the payday lenders, said he is satisfied with the ballot language. The lenders get to be the ones encouraging people to vote "no" on the issue, and the 391 percent figure that payday opponents routinely use does not appear anywhere in the language.

Payday-industry opponents who are trying to save the new law argued that the language is unclear.

"If you have a calculator and a copy of the Ohio Revised Code, you might figure out what it means," said Bill Faith, a leader of the Protect H.B. 545 Committee.

He criticized the repeated mentioning of "Section 3 of H.B. 545" in the language. "Voters don't know what that is."

Faith preferred the push by Sen. Jeff Jacobson, R-Vandalia, a board member who at one point wanted to include a 5,475 percent interest rate but later settled for wording that said a partial repeal of House Bill 545 would mean rates of 78 percent to 391 percent on short-term loans.

Jacobson argued it's the best way to make an *ap*ples-to-*ap*ples comparison, but Brunner shot down the idea in one of her many head butts with the senator. "I'm not sure it makes it any clearer for voters," she said, instead highlighting that a "no" vote means loans can "substantially" exceed 28 percent interest.

If a majority of Ohioans vote "no" on the referendum, state law will have two statutes governing payday loans: one allowing 391 percent interest, and another that sets it at 28 percent. Payday lenders are expected to keep charging 391 percent.

The casin0 ballot issue took less than 90 minutes to certify.

The board included language at the request of casin0 opponents explaining that while the casin0 will start out distributing 30 percent of gambling revenue, minus winnings, to Ohio's 88 counties based on population, that number can drop to 25 percent or less if a second casin0 opens in the state.


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