LAS CRUCES – New Mexico Senator Bill Soules, D-Las Cruces, refused to accept changes to his bill to limit interest rates for small loans, sending the bill to a conference committee to try to find a resolution.
The Senate, at the request of Soules, on Thursday March 18 refused the changes made to Senate Bill 66. A conference committee made up of three members of the House and three members of the Senate will meet to try to find a solution.
“Once he got out of House Judiciary, it wasn’t my bill anymore,” Soules said.
The bill, as originally drafted, would have lowered the annual small loan rate from 175% to 36%, which the U.S. military set as the maximum rate on loans to serving members. active.
The bill was amended by the House Judiciary Committee, raising the APR from 36% to 99% over fears that small lenders would leave the state and low-income residents would be left with no options when they need money in an emergency.
“For me, it’s not about avoiding debt. For some people, it is about survival, ”said Representative Micaela Lara Cadena, D-Mesilla, vice-chair of the committee. “That doesn’t mean families should sink to shockingly high interest rates, but I’m concerned that we are creating a policy that eliminates some financial decisions for New Mexicans but does not create a different mechanism for people to do.” access to small they really need it.
Cadena joined representatives Doreen Gallegos, D-Las Cruces; Patricia Lundstrom, D-Gallup; Dayan Hochman-Vigil, D-Albuquerque; and Susan Herrera, D-Embudo, on a Wednesday night floor amendment that keeps the rate at 99 percent for loans up to $ 1,000, with two years to pay off. The 36% rate has been used for loans over $ 1,000. This was then changed to $ 1,100.
“Tonight’s compromise should serve as an example for the legislature and point out how to work together to create real and sensible solutions that work for the people of our state,” Gallegos said in a prepared statement.
However, this was no compromise in the eyes of the sponsor. Soules said the vast majority of small loans are $ 1,000 or less, and the 99% APR was not acceptable.
The Senate voted 22-15 to disagree and send the bill back to the House. Members could withdraw their amendments, but the most likely outcome will be a conference committee.
Members of the Senate Conference Committee will be Soules; Katy Duhigg, D-Albuquerque; and Greg Schmedes, R-Tijeras.
“Anything can happen in a conference committee,” Soules said. “It’s a small group of people, and you can sit down and negotiate. I really don’t know what’s going to happen.
Lieutenant Governor Howie Morales, who chairs sessions in the Senate, said the conference committee will be public, and those interested can watch Zoom. It should take place soon, as the session ends on Saturday March 20 at noon.
Soules said he was disappointed with the changes but will continue to fight for the 36% rate.
“I feel a bit like the dark knight of the Monty Python,” Soules said. “My arms and legs are cut off, but I’m not dead yet. “
Walter Rubel can be contacted at [email protected].