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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Washington Legislature. Austin Jenkins is the Olympia correspondent for the Northwest News Network. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) weekly public affairs program "Inside Olympia."

Proposed Short Term Loan Stirs Heated Debate In Washington

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Dan Iggers
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OLYMPIA, Wash. – One of the Northwest’s most visible payday lenders is back in the middle of a fight over short-term loans. Moneytree wants the Washington legislature to approve a new type of consumer loan.

This new loan would give short-term borrowers more money up front, but also more time to pay it off. Someone in a financial pinch could borrow up to $1,500 cash over 12 months.

In testimony before a panel of lawmakers, opponent Bruce Neas noted that all the fees and interest could add up to more than the amount of the original loan.

“Is it reasonable to charge $1,660 over a period of one year for simply receiving $1,500? I suggest it is not.”

Moneytree CEO Dennis Bassford responded that this new option would be more affordable and flexible than a conventional payday loan. And safer than something you’d find online.

“Politics and rhetoric aside, this product will fill the demand currently being met in the dark recesses of the internet with a safe, transparent and regulated product.”

Democratic sponsors note they’ve added a series of safeguards. They include incentives to pay off the loan more quickly. And a prohibition on having one of these loans and a payday loan at the same time.

On the Web:

SB 5312: Consumer loans - Washington Legislature