Ned Oliver/States Newsroom
After a review of signatures, the State Board of Canvassers determined Thursday that the Michiganders for Fair Lending did not collect enough valid signatures to qualify for the November ballot.
The initiative aimed to cap payday loan interest rates in the state.
The board unanimously voted to accept the Bureau of Elections’ recommendation that the coalition does not qualify for the ballot, following the bureau’s sample review that found the initiative fell short by about 72,000 signatures.
“Michiganders for Fair Lending is disappointed that this year’s petition drive fell short of the signature requirement. As has been widely reported in the news, this was a tough year for all petition drives in Michigan,” Michiganders for Fair Lending spokesperson Josh Hovey said in a statement.
Last month, the group submitted 405,625 signatures. The required number of signatures for a legislative initiative to be considered for the ballot was at least 340,047 signatures, or 8% of the vote in the last gubernatorial election.
Hovey said that despite the board’s decision to not approve the initiative’s signatures, the coalition “remains motivated and dedicated to payday lending reform” and will work to push forward reform in the Legislature.
The Michigan for Fair Lending proposal aimed to cap at 36% the annual percentage rate on payday loans and empower the Michigan attorney general to prosecute lenders who exceed that rate. Proposal organizers said payday lenders are currently allowed to charge “interest rates and fees equivalent to a 340% annual percentage rate or more.”
Groups supporting the ballot initiative included the Michigan League for Public Policy, Habitat for Humanity of Michigan and the Michigan Association of United Ways. Habitat for Humanity of Michigan President Sandra Pearson previously told the Associated Press that while payday lenders market short-term loans as a quick fix, they often result in borrowers finding themselves in a worse financial situation than before.
A number of other initiatives chose to withhold their signatures and not submit them to get on the November ballot, including Unlock MI, Let MI Kids Learn, Secure MI vote, Raise the Wage Michigan, Audit MI, Michigan United and Michigan Initiative for Community Healing.
Two proposed constitutional amendments, Reproductive Freedom for All and Promote the Vote, will likely make it on the ballot after submitting well over the required number of signatures earlier this month.
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