Kander seeks public comments on pair of proposed constitutional amendments

Missourians have until Sunday to comment on two proposed amendments to the state Constitution.

Whitfield Montgomery of St. Louis has proposed the same language — the “Consumer Borrowers’ Bill of Rights” — to be added either as a new section 44(a) in Article I, the listing of Missourians’ Bill of Rights, or as a new section 36(a) of Article III, which controls the Legislative Department of state government.

The full text of Montgomery’s proposal can be viewed through a link on Secretary of State’s website, www.sos.mo.gov/elections.

Among its proposed provisions, the amendment would:

• Prohibit criminal prosecutions of borrowers “for failure to repay a loan taken in good faith.”

• Forbid a lender from threatening a criminal prosecution “as a result of a borrower’s check being returned unpaid.”

• Require every loan agreement to “clearly state ... the cost of the loan” in three different ways: “dollars per $100 (borrowed); the annual percentage rate; and the finance charge, or the total number of dollars that the credit will cost.”

• Define a “loan” as “a written agreement to borrow $500 or less, to be repaid within 14 to 31 days; an agreement to borrow money for personal, family or household purposes (for $500 or more); a title loan agreement; or an agreement to borrow any amount ... payable in not less than four substantially equal installments over a period of not less than 120 days.”

In a news release, Kander noted the five-day public comment period “allows Missourians to offer their observations on the submitted proposal online, or by mail, or by phone.”

Under state law, Kander’s office has 10 days after the form of the petition is approved to draft the ballot summary language — and that includes the period where public comments are sought and reviewed.

As a proposed constitutional amendment, Montgomery and his supporters must gather the signatures of registered Missouri voters equal to 8 percent of the total vote turnout in the last (2012) governor’s election, in each of at least six of Missouri’s eight congressional districts.

Those petitions must be submitted to Kander before 5 p.m. May 4, so his office can distribute the completed forms to county clerks throughout the state, so they can confirm that the signatures are from properly registered voters.

If the signatures are verified as valid, the issue would be placed on the Nov. 4, 2014, general election ballot.

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