Archives

Mel WattThis just in from the good folks at the Center for Responsible Lending:

NC’s Rep. Mel Watt receives early and bipartisan support to head FHFA
Agency oversees financial enterprises with $6.7 trillion in assets

By Charlene Crowell

President Obama recently nominated Melvin (Mel) Watt, a long-time North Carolina Congressman, to direct the operations of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA). While major news media reported on the development, few mentioned exactly what the new job would entail or the significance of an African-American potentially leading a key financial office.   Read More

Predatory loansMembers of the Senate Commerce Committee approved a bill today that would jack up interest rates on small loans made in North Carolina to unprecedented levels. The bottom line on the bill: Already high-cost loans will become bigger, more expensive and harder to pay off. 

The action came on a voice vote after several experts explained why the bill would be a disaster for already struggling consumers.

I know: No big surprise for the 2013 North Carolina General Assembly — a group whose motto ought to be “When corporate lobbyists say ‘jump,’ we say ‘how high?’”

Still, this morning’s hearing featured a moment of such blatant and downright stunning hypocrisy, it had to be witnessed to be believed.

Consider the following: Read More

Payday loansThe NC Justice Center reports:

A  new poll released today shows staggeringly low levels of support for a bill that would legalize loans of up to 300 percent in North Carolina. Indeed, nearly three-fourths of North Carolinians say they would be less likely to vote for a legislator that supported the bill.

The poll, conducted by Public Policy Polling, shows that only seven percent of North Carolinians support the push to legalize payday lending in North Carolina, compared with 73 percent who would like to see current lending limits remain intact.

Current law allows interest rates of up to 54 percent, but a new bill, Senate Bill 89, would allow payday lenders to charge an annual percentage rate well above 300 percent.

Significantly, seven out of 10 respondents say that they would oppose the law even if they knew for sure it would create jobs and allow easier access to credit.

The poll has serious implications for lawmakers. Read More

Harold BrubakerAs anyone who happened to glance at the front page of this past Sunday’s edition of Raleigh’s News & Observer probably noticed, former North Carolina House Speaker and Appropriations Committee Chairman Harold Brubaker has gotten through the almost meaningless six-month “cooling off period” during which former legislators are barred from lobbying their old chums. He now appears ready to make a big splash as a high-powered lobbyist.

Already, Brubaker has signed up nine separate clients for Brubaker and Associates for the 2013 legislative session that begins in earnest tomorrow. Some lobbyists represent more “principals” than this, however, so it wouldn’t be surprising if this number grew in the days to come.

Most of the nine are about who you would expect: insurance companies, doctor groups, the beer and wine lobby and, as is frequently the case for big shot “lobsters,” the requisite nonprofit client. One client that many would not have predicted, however, is this one: Read More

The closed-door decision by the NC Utilities Commission (NCUC) and the Public Staff to end its investigation into the Duke-Progress merger in exchange for a handful of restrained conditions is another missed opportunity by state regulators to protect NC consumers.

The Commission must vote on the proposal on Monday which includes conditions such as shuffling of staff and board members, concretizing Jim Rogers’ already planned 2013 retirement and throwing a few bones to consumers and low-income customers. It’s mind-boggling to think how little has come from the merger investigation. Read More