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Coronavirus | Economy & Business | IndyBlog | State Government

Technical issues cause cancellation of payday lending database meeting

The exterior of a MoneyTree branch in Carson City, as seen on Feb. 22, 2017. (David Calvert/The Nevada Independent)

A scheduled hearing to adopt regulations implementing a state payday loan database was called off by state regulators after technology issues plagued the meeting and prevented individuals from calling in to the meeting.

The scheduled hearing by the state Financial Institutions Division on Wednesday went through about 30 minutes of public comment during a meeting scheduled to implement provisions of a state law passed in the 2019 Legislature requiring a database to track information on high-interest, short-term loans.

But the meeting was abruptly cancelled and rescheduled to a later date after the division was unable to allow all meeting participants into the telephonic meeting — called because of an emergency directive by Gov. Steve Sisolak to move public meetings to virtual or telephonic formats amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

It’s another delay for the database regulations — an initially scheduled meeting in March was cancelled because of the pandemic. The state law requires provisions of the bill to be in place by July 1.

The regulations — which were released in February — would require the division to contract with an outside vendor to create the database, and lists the kinds of information that payday lending companies would be required to input, including information on loans, grace periods, extensions, renewals, refinances, repayment plans, collection notices and declined loans, as well as information on a potential borrower’s net disposable income and other indicators assessing a person’s ability to repay a loan. It also set a maximum $3 per-loan fee for each loan product entered into the database.

The division received 25 responses to the proposed regulations from payday lenders (generally grouped under a state law for any business that offers loans with a 40 percent or greater interest rate). Representatives from the industry largely panned the regulations as overly broad during the public comment period, saying it requires the collection of much more data than what was listed in the bill and that implementation should be delayed until after the state’s economy is allowed to open back up, given difficulties in needing to train large groups of employees.

“We've never experienced the health crisis or economic disaster as far reaching as this pandemic,” Cash 1 L.L.C. general counsel Marty Baker said. “We are already dealing with thousands of different payment plans. This is not the time to hurry the implementation of the database to meet an arbitrary deadline. Nevada lawmakers certainly didn't intend to implement this database in the middle of a pandemic.”

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