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Sun Oct 30, 2016, 03:16 AM

Voters to be final jurors in payday lending fight

It's a fight pitting free-market ideals against perceptions of fairness.

South Dakota's high-stakes battle over payday lending is heading toward a resolution next week, when voters will decide on a pair of conflicting ballot questions that could outlaw high-interest, short-term loans or solidify them in the state's constitution.

The $46 billion a year industry, including at least 138 licensed lenders in South Dakota, says it won't be able to operate in the state if voters approve a 36-percent interest rate cap. Average annual interest rates on payday loans in South Dakota exceed 500 percent, according to a 2014 Pew Charitable Trusts report.

Payday loan defenders argue they serve as an essential financial lifeline for thousands of low-income South Dakotans, and that banning the products will push people toward shadowy online or black market lenders. A Federal Reserve survey this year found 47 percent of Americans couldn't afford an unexpected $400 expense, and many lack the credit or collateral to rely on conventional banks.

Read more: http://www.argusleader.com/story/news/politics/2016/10/29/voters-final-jurors-payday-lending-fight/92764790/

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