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2022 Session - Ep. 7, The Lenders of Last Resort

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Thomas Hawk

We have ten days left in this legislative session. This is the point where everything starts moving very quickly - almost frantically - so lawmakers can get to all of the bills they care about before time runs out. Today we’re going to focus on House Bill 132, a bill that would limit interest rates on storefront loans - you know, the kinds of loans given in strip malls that sometimes require a car title as collateral. They’re problematic for the way they tend to cluster in less affluent parts of town and for the exceptionally high interest rates that often keep borrowers trapped in a cycle of debt that’s difficult to escape.

Today we’ll first chat with Dan Boyd, the capital bureau chief for the Albuquerque Journal. He’s been following HB132 closely this year, and similar bills to cap interest rates that just didn’t get across the finish line in previous sessions. Then, we’re going to do something a little different. Fred Nathan Jr. will join us. He’s not a journalist; Fred is the founder and Executive Direct of Think New Mexico. It’s a nonpartisan think tank based in Santa Fe but working for all New Mexicans. There are a couple things to note: first, when we sat down for the interview with Fred we discovered that he is on the board of the Thornburg Foundation that also funds us at YNMG. It’s only a coincidence that it came up in conversation, but we wanted to be transparent about that. Second, Think New Mexico has been advocating for House Bill 132 and even had a hand in writing the text, along with Senate Bill 177, which Fred discusses. We brought Fred on because Think New Mexico has a reputation for fairness and has been involved with the issue of exceptionally high interest loans for years. In fact, you’ll hear us referencing a2020 Think New Mexico report on “predatory lending” in both interviews today.

As of the time of publication we didn’t have a result from the hearing in the House for HB132, but around 11pm on February 7th the full House of Representatives passed the bill on a 51-18 vote, sending it to the Senate for consideration. We'll keep you updated on it's progress.

If you’re watching the legislative session or something else in government that you think we should see too, send us a message at ynmg@kunm.org.

This public service is part of our Your New Mexico Government project, a collaboration between KUNM radio and New Mexico PBS. Support for public media provided by the Thornburg Foundation.

Kaveh Mowahed is a reporter with KUNM who follows government, public health and housing. Send story ideas to kaveh@kunm.org.