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Comment period open on three petitions

Amendments proposed on consumer loans

Missourians have until Saturday to comment on three initiative petition proposals filed this spring with Secretary of State Jason Kander’s office.

In a news release, Kander’s staff reminded Missourians that the five-day public comment period allows people to offer their observations on the submitted proposal, while the office is working on the ballot summary language that must accompany the petition if it’s approved for circulation to get voters’ signatures.

The comments can be made online, by mail or by phone.

The public comment period isn’t required by current state law, but Kander instituted the process shortly after taking over the secretary’s office in January.

The process includes posting the proposed initiative petition online as soon as its form is approved as required by state law, to make the process more accessible and transparent for Missourians.

Current law requires the secretary of state’s office to draft the ballot language within 10 days after the form of the petition is approved.

The petitions opened Tuesday for public comment can be viewed through links on the secretary of state’s website, www.sos.mo.gov/elections or by going to www.newstribune.com/petitions.

All three of the petitions opened for comment Tuesday propose constitutional amendments defining consumer loans, and two of them would change the same section of the Constitution — Article III, Section 44 — which requires financial institutions to charge uniform interest rates.

The shorter of the proposed amendments would add one sentence to the current language, and would prohibit any law fixing interest rates on loans from allowing a rate “in excess of $18 per $100 loaned per 30 days, or fails to give the borrower and lender the right to agree to a different rate in writing.”

The longer of the two proposed amendments to that section would replace the current, single paragraph with 11 paragraphs detailing a “Consumer Borrowers’ Bill of Rights.”

Among its main provisions is language prohibiting criminal prosecutions of borrowers “for failure to repay a loan taken in good faith,” and creating a crime of “predatory lending” for “any lender that purposely and repeatedly makes loans at more than twice the rate permitted” by the amendment’s proposed language limiting interest rates to 36 percent for active duty military and “the fair market annual percentage rate” for all other borrowers.

The third petition open for public comment through Saturday takes the same “Consumer Borrowers’ Bill of Rights” language, but adds it to the Missouri Constitution’s Bill of Rights in Article I.

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