LANSING – State election officials say a campaign to limit payday loans did not yield enough valid signatures to qualify for the November election.
Michiganders for Fair Lending submitted approximately 392,000 signatures on June 1 for the initiated bill. But the Bureau of Elections, in a report issued to the Board of State Recruiters late last week, estimated that the Elections Committee’s petitions contain about 275,000 legitimate signatures — well below the approximately 340,000 required.
“As widely reported in the news, this has been a tough year for all Michigan petition campaigns. Despite this disappointment, the Fair Lending Coalition remains motivated and committed to payday credit reform,” spokesman Josh Hovey said in a statement.
After removing sheets that failed an initial “face check,” the bureau drew a sample of 522 randomly selected signatures. Only 375 were valid after officials considered issues such as signers not being registered voters and a challenge filed by opposition group Safe Lending Michigan.
The advertisers are expected to agree with the bureau’s recommendation and refuse certification as early as next week.
The measure would have capped payday loans, known as deferred presentation service transactions, at an annual interest rate of 36 percent. According to the ballot, they usually correspond to 370 percent.
The loans are short-term, high-cost loans, generally for $500 or less, which are typically due on the borrower’s next payday.
“Going forward, we will challenge our stakeholders to hold local candidates accountable by asking them to support payday loan reform as part of their campaign platforms,” Hovey said. “We will also work as a coalition to drive reforms in the Legislature to ensure predatory lenders stop taking advantage of hard-working Michiganders.”
Legislative efforts to curb payday loans have previously stalled.
Michiganders for Fair Lending had raised $4.1 million and spent $2.1 million as of April 20, mostly collecting signatures. Two groups funded the effort: the American Civil Liberties Union ($2.6 million) and the Sixteen Thirty Fund ($1.6 million), an organization supported by anonymous left-wing donors.
“We have said from the day they submitted that their signatures were not good and that they would fail in their attempt to restrict safe and regulated consumer credit options in Michigan,” said Patrick Meyers of Safe Lending Michigan .
It’s likely that Michigan voters will consider three statewide proposals in November, all of them constitutional amendments.
One put to a vote by lawmakers would overhaul some of the country’s toughest statutory term limits and require state-elected officials to report information about their finances to avoid conflicts of interest. The state is beginning to consider petitions filed last week by committees aimed at protecting abortion rights and expanding voting rights.