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As reported on the main NC Policy Watch site last week (It’s baaaack: Troubled Alabama bank tries to sneak payday lending back into North Carolina) at least one bank (Regions Bank out of Alabama) is trying to bring payday lending back into North Carolina after state lawmakers, regulators and advocates chased the practice away more than a decade ago.  

Mark Binker over at WRAL had more on the story over the holiday weekend, including the fact that a much larger and more respectable  institution, SunTrust Bank, may be considering doing its own shark impression as well. Let’s hope that SunTrust and others come to their senses and realize that payday lending is bad news for the state’s consumers and bank reputations.    

 

While the debate rages on about the Duke-Progress merger and the NC Legislature becomes more determined to create a dirty energy policy for our state, another course is being charted – one that does not involve fracking, offshore drilling, coal-fired power plants or more nuclear power.

© Greenpeace, David Sorcher, 2012

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Today’s edition of Raleigh’s News & Observer includes a column I wrote regarding one of the myriad shortsighted cuts included in the House version of the 2013 state budget that’s been emerging on Jones Street in recent days.

In another classic case of conservative ideology trumping common sense, the proposed Justice and Public Safety budget would eviscerate the Attorney General’s Office of Consumer Protection by ending state funding and forcing the lawyers there to become “receipt-supported.” That’s a fancy way of saying Read More

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Pinpointing THE one thing that did in conservative Democratic state lawmaker Jim Crawford in yesterday’s election is tough given the long list of progressive causes the Granville County state rep has angered through the years.

But here’s one issue that was clearly a significant factor: Crawford’s longstanding opposition to tougher consumer protection laws in the predatory lending arena.

For several years, Crawford has been one of the high-cost loan industry’s “go to” friends on Jones Street. Last year, he joined with Republicans to help pass industry-drafted legislation that would jack up already exorbitant interest rates (currently already above 50% per year) on consumer loans made by storefront lenders. The bill is pending in the state Senate.

Now, it appears Crawford’s close relationship with high-cost moneylenders has finally come back to bite him. Crawford’s opponents apparently distributed thousands of copies of a mailer during the latter days of the campaign connecting the dots (accurately, it turns out) between Crawford and the sharks.

Going forward, it will be interesting to see if Crawford’s demise has an impact on any of his soon-to-be former colleagues.

Duke Energy’s electricity rates are poised to continue skyrocketing over the next few years, but only some customers will feel the burn. While the utility lures the world’s elite technology giants to NC by offering cheap electricity, captive small business and residential customers are charged higher rates. The rate structure is patently unfair and is being challenged before the NC Utilities Commission by environmental watchdog NCWARN.

While this issue has been debated before Commission in the past, Duke Energy has successfully negotiated it away. The NC Attorney General also recognizes the unfairness but has yet to force a resolution to protect consumers. Read More