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LETTER: No on 'U,' but yes on 21

To the Editor: With all the noise surrounding the presidential election, it is easy to forget that there are a number of important down-ballot issues South Dakotans will be asked to vote on. Two of them deal with the predatory lending practices o...

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To the Editor:

With all the noise surrounding the presidential election, it is easy to forget that there are a number of important down-ballot issues South Dakotans will be asked to vote on. Two of them deal with the predatory lending practices of certain lenders, like payday and title loan companies, for instance. Companies such as these stay in business by keeping the poorest among us continually under a crushing load of debt from which it is nearly impossible to be free. Two initiatives on this year's ballot address this problem, but they are confusingly worded.

Constitutional Amendment U would cap lenders' interests rates at 18%. On the surface this sounds great. The amendment, however, contains an enormous loophole. According to the Secretary of State, "There is no limit on the amount of interest a lender may charge for a loan of money if the interest rate is agreed to in writing by the borrower." See the problem? No institution lends money to anyone without a written agreement, so this deceptive amendment essentially means that there will be no caps on interest rates at all. "173 percent? No problem! Just sign here!" Naturally, lending companies are behind Amendment U.

They are not, however, behind Measure 21, which caps lending rates at 36 percent. Again, on the surface, this sounds like a much worse idea than Amendment U, but remember Amendment U effectively removes all caps. 21 truly limits them. And, of course, the lending companies are howling in protest over Measure 21, which is telling.

The Bible reminds us that God is very concerned with the plight of the poor. Proverbs 22:22 says, "Do not rob the poor because he is poor, nor oppress the afflicted at the gate." Capping rates at 36 percent is still a very heavy burden, but it is a step in the right direction.

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Vote No on Amendment U. Vote YES on Measure 21.

Kevin Carroll

Mitchell

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