House Democrats have used an unusual move to take a payday loan regulation bill from a committee and order it placed on the House calendar for debate. That extraordinary move, though, might well backfire.
House Democrats exercised the constitutional right to strip a committee of a bill and force it on the calendar. They claimed they had to, that the House Financial Institutions Committee had no desire to move the measure to regulate the payday loan industry.
House Speaker Ron Richard, a Republican from Joplin, says the bill will go nowhere in wake of Democrats taking such a drastic step.
“There’s a right way and a wrong way to do things around here,” Richard “I’ll be asking the Majority (Floor) Leader not to take it up.”
Majority Floor Leader Steven Tilley, a Republican from Perryville, says he has no plans to.
“If it gets to the calendar, I have no intention to take it up, because it subverts the Speaker, it subverts the committee chair and the committee process,” Tilley says, pointing out that House Democrats complained that an open-enrollment amendment came to the floor for debate even though it had never been discussed in committee.
House Democrats counter that leadership has intended to kill the bill all along. They point out that the House Financial Institutions Committee vice chairman is Rep. Don Wells, a Republican from Cabool, who owns Kwik Kash, a payday loan business. Wells conducted an informational hearing on the payday lending industry in which only industry lobbyists were invited to give testimony.
“The leaders of the House Financial Institutions Committee have forfeited the committee’s credibility and rigged the game against consumer protection,” House Minority Leader Paul LeVota (D-Independence) said in a written statement. “Since the fix is in, we had no choice but to strip the committee of jurisdiction and put the bill before the full House.”
HB 2116 is sponsored by Rep. Mary Still, a Democrat from Columbia. Still says Missourians should be concerned about the conflict of interest in the committee which she said turned a legislative committee into a booster club for the payday loan industry.