Press Release

Concerned Rhode Islanders Urge Votes on Bills to Protect Vulnerable Borrowers from Predatory Payday Lenders

Last updated: June 06, 2024

An Open Letter to the Honorable Speaker of the House K. Joseph Shekarchi and the Honorable President of the Senate Dominick Ruggerio 

Concerned Rhode Islanders call on House and Senate Leadership to allow votes on Payday Lending Reform

May 29, 2024 

Dear Speaker Shekarchi and Senate President Ruggerio, 

On behalf of the Economic Progress Institute, members of the Rhode Island Payday Lending Reform Coalition, and the undersigned elected officials, community partners, and concerned Rhode Islanders, we are calling upon your leadership to allow committee and floor votes for H-7211 and S-2141, which would protect vulnerable Rhode Islanders from the predatory practice and loophole in our state law that allows payday lenders to charge an annual interest rate up to 260%. 

We want to thank you, Speaker Shekarchi, for facilitating last year’s historic 70-2 House of Representatives vote to reform payday lending. And we thank you, President Ruggerio, for facilitating the recent hearing at the Senate Commerce Committee. Whatever your personal views might be on the matter, we ask you to recognize that after almost a decade and a half, it is time to allow votes in both chambers, especially given the popular support for this among both legislators and the general public.

We want to emphasize three reasons for ensuring that the Rhode Island General Assembly vote this year on payday lending reform: 

There are better alternatives to payday lenders: Small dollar loans without predatory rates are available through these institutions: local credit unions like Navigant Credit Union and Greenwood Credit Union; federal credit unions; large national banks including Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Huntington Bank, and US Bank; and financial institutions such as the Capital Good Fund. We know that there are better alternatives to predatory payday lending because Rhode Island and Delaware are the only states in the entire Northeast that still permit them to operate while charging these predatory rates. With Senator Jack Reed’s leadership, Congress in 2006 decided to protect members of the military and cap loans to 36% after the US Defense Department determined that predatory lending “undermines the military readiness.” Eighteen states and DC cap rates at 36% or lower. 

Payday lenders should not be allowed to play by special rules: For over 14 years, payday lenders have been allowed to play by special rules, charging Rhode Islanders up to 260% in interest and fees, while their competitors are limited to 36% by statute. This would not be tolerated if small businesses or more affluent communities in Rhode Island were targeted. Rhode Islanders are paying millions of dollars in fees each year, with most of this money going out of state to one large corporation, instead of being spent in the local economy, generating additional economic activity. Seventy-five percent of the fees that fund this industry are from borrowers caught in a debt trap set up intentionally by the industry as their profit model. 

There is overwhelming support for payday lending reform: There is no need to compromise or keep this bill for “further study” when the only opposition all these years has been from the very industry that benefits from these predatory practices. Last year’s historic 70-2 House of Representatives vote and testimonies from Senators this year, show that legislators are in support of payday lending reform. The Rhode Island Black, Latino, Indigenous, Asian-American and Pacific Islander (RIBLIA) Caucus has endorsed this bill as one of their priorities for the 2024 legislative session. At a recent press event, Patrick Crowley from the RI AFL-CIO spoke forcefully in favor of reform, and Jessica Vega, Senior Policy Analyst from Rhode Island KIDS COUNT, shared her personal story of how this predatory practice negatively impacted her. In 2018, the Rhode Island Advisory Committee to the US Commission on Civil Rights unanimously adopted a report that showed that payday loans are targeted at people of color, create a cycle of debt, and adversely affect the Rhode Island Economy. They recommended that “The General Assembly pass a bill eliminating the statutory carve-out for payday lenders.” 

We are calling upon both of you, following the lead of Speaker Shekarchi last year, to allow Rhode Island legislators who stand ready to protect their constituents and Rhode Islanders, to finally have the opportunity to vote this bill out of the House Corporation and Senate Commerce Committees and onto the House and Senate Floors and then to the Governor for his signature. This is legislation that has broad support, will protect Rhode Islanders, and will stimulate our local economy by keeping our money here. 

Thank you for your leadership and consideration.


Economic Progress Institute
Rhode Island Coalition for Payday Lending Reform
Governor Dan McKee
Lieutenant Governor Sabina Matos
Secretary of State Gregg M. Amore
Attorney General Peter F. Neronha
General Treasurer James A. Diossa
Providence City Council
Woonsocket City Council
Councilor Braxton H. Cloutier, Barrington
Councilor Sue AnderBois, Providence
Amos House
Barrington Interfaith Partners
Cannabis Policy Coalition
Center for Responsible Lending
Community Care Alliance
Edgewood Congregational Church U.C.C.
First Unitarian Church in Providence
Fuerza Laboral
George Wiley Center
Higher Ground International
HousingWorks RI
Jonnycake Center for Hope
Latino Policy Institute
Local Return
National Association of Social Workers, RI Chapter
Olneyville Neighborhood Association
Parents Leading for Educational Equity
Protect Our Healthcare Coalition
Rhode Island ACLU
Rhode Island AFL-CIO
Rhode Island Black Business Association
Rhode Island Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics
Rhode Island Community Food Bank
Rhode Island KIDS COUNT
Rhode Island Poor People's Campaign—A National Call for Moral Revival
Rhode Island State Council of Churches
RI Coalition Against Domestic Violence
RI Council 94 AFSCME
RI Interfaith Coalition To Reduce Poverty
RI Workforce Alliance
RI Working Families Party
RIESA SEIU Local 401
Shadhuliyya Sufi Community of RI
Sisters of Mercy of the Americas Justice Team
Sojourner House
SRG Resources Inc.
Stop Torture RI Coalition
Temple Habonim
The Capital Good Fund
The Peace Flag Project
The R.I. Center for Justice
The Womxn Project
UAW 7770
Unitarian Universalist Church of Providence
Unitarian Universalist Congregation of South County
United Way of Rhode Island
USA Compassion Corps
USW Union
Women's Fund of Rhode Island
Ericka Perez
Hillary Salmons
Joe Almeida
Maureen Martin
Michelle Davidson
Nicole O’Loughlin
Roger Boudreau
Sandy Molnar
Virginia Fox
Ann Doran, Barrington
David Mehl, Barrington
Helen Schall, Barrington
Karen Keohan, Barrington
Kathleen Brueckner, Barrington
Kristen Aber, Barrington
Liana Cassar, Barrington
Lois Kemp, Barrington
Perri Leviss, Barrington
Rabbi Alan Flam, Barrington
Susannah P. Holloway, Barrington
Tanja Kubas-Meyer, Barrington
Cathy Del Nero, Bristol
Elisabeth Lavers, Bristol
George Voutes, Bristol
George LeBlanc, Bristol
Kathleen Kloeblen, Bristol
Laura Carleu, Bristol
Lawrence D. Lavers, Bristol
Myra Page, Bristol
Sarah Winsor, Bristol
Susan Morettini, Bristol
Steve Kloeblen, Bristol
Tony Morettini, Bristol
Justin Mathews, Carolina
Barbara J. Silvis, Central Falls
Jessica Vega, Central Falls
Jill Malin, Chepachet
Ken DiPrete, Coventry
Mark Beveridge, Coventry
Tracy Keresztessy, Coventry
Victoria Wolf, Coventry
Alisha Rudacevsky, Cranston
Arianna Jimenez, Cranston
Betty Clinton, Cranston
Chris Campanile, Cranston
Eileen Sweeney, Cranston
Erica Hammond, Cranston
James Vincent, Cranston
Jill Harrington, Cranston
Joanne Fang, Cranston
Joyce Boober, Cranston
Kristine Pearson, Cranston
Lance Eaton, Cranston
Mary Hodess, Cranston
Nina Harrison, Cranston
Robert Ferri, Cranston
Sabine Adrian, Cranston
Shawndell Burney-Speaks, Cranston
Stephanie Geller, Cranston
Jerome Tisser, Exeter
Chiara Deltito-Sharrott, East Greenwich
Constance Bevivino, East Greenwich
Janet Searles, East Greenwich
Rabbi Jeffrey Goldwasser, East Greenwich
Jessica David, East Greenwich
Robert Walker, East Greenwich
Barbara Westlake, East Providence
Colin Brodd, East Providence
Deryl Pace, East Providence
Gene Moncrief, East Providence
James Rosenthal, East Providence
Kenneth Rickler, East Providence
Laura Giusti, East Providence
Marianne Panzini-Rosenthal, East Providence
Robert Westlake, East Providence
Rodney Lopez, East Providence
Roxanne S. Stern, East Providence
Susan Dunnington, East Providence
Walter Levy, East Providence
Jerome Tisser, Exeter
Etta Zasloff, Hope Valley
Helen O’Grady, Jamestown
Michael A D'Amico, Johnston
Kristin O’Malley, Lincoln
Lucille A Riccitelli, Lincoln
Michael Mattone, Lincoln
Sarah Harper, Mapleville
Sally Hanchett, Newport
Denise Levins, North Kingstown
Donna Lico, North Kingstown
Doris Duarte, North Kingstown
Doug Pagano, North Kingstown
Jennifer Lima, North Kingstown
Lorena Pugh, North Kingstown
Narissa Willever, North Kingstown
Tom Sgouros, North Kingstown
Anna Morales, North Providence
Barbara A Gianola, North Providence
Clara Hardy, North Providence
Deborah Hoff, North Providence
Erendida Montes, North Providence
Karina, North Providence
John A Pernorio, North Providence
Dr. Mary Archibald, North Providence
Nathaniel Davies, North Providence
Nicole Tingle, North Providence
Clarisse Dexter, North Scituate
Joel Gates, North Scituate
Mindy Walls, North Scituate
Erin Newell, Pawtucket
Ineida Rocha, Pawtucket
Joe Leduc, Pawtucket
Margaret Finn, Pawtucket
Mary Pendergast, Pawtucket
Mike Brand, Pawtucket
Norine Duncan, Pawtucket
Sherri Simmons, Pawtucket
Wendy Oliver, Pawtucket
Craig Gaspard, Portsmouth
Adam Isaacs-Falbel, Providence
Aislinn Hanley, Providence
Alan Krinsky, Providence
Amy Crawford, Providence
Angel Lopez, Providence
Anjali Sridhar, Providence
Annie Gjelsvik, Providence
Autumn Guillotte, Providence
Rachel Greene, Providence
Beth Toolan, Providence
Bob Hughes, Providence
Debbie Schimberg, Providence
Divya Nair, Providence
Donnie Anderson, Providence
Dwayne Keys, Providence
Emily Kloeblen, Providence
Gayle Rodgerd, Providence
Gloria Johnson, Providence
Gwenette Kangis, Providence
Haley De La Rosa, Providence
Heidi Ross, Providence
James Barfoot, Providence
Janet H. Jagger, Providence
Jean Stoddard, Providence
Jessie Kingston, Providence
Jill Holloway, Providence
Jim Kingston, Providence
Joan Richards, Providence
Joanna Brown, Providence
Joe Almeida, Providence
Joe Fisler, Providence
John Harkey, Providence
Kate McGovern, Providence
Katherine Linwood, Providence
Kavya Gopinath, Providence
Latoya Watts, Providence
Laura Levine, Providence
Lauren Nance, Providence
Lehidy Frias, Providence
Linda Katz, Providence
Linda Shaw, Providence
Lisa A Maloney, Providence
Liza Burkin, Providence
Maggie Chung, Providence
Mary Ann Daley, Providence
Mary Ann Watkins, Providence
Michael McGovern, Providence
Michelle Wilson, Providence
Mike Dumond, Providence
Mike Healey, Providence
Mimo Gordon Riley, Providence
Moises Valcarcel Gonzalez, Providence
Nancy Green, Providence
Nancy Whit, Providence
Nicholas Haber, Providence
Nondas Hurst Voll, Providence
Pamela High, Providence
Paula Hodges, Providence
Peter Chung, Providence
Philip Smith, Providence
Rachel Greene, Providence
Rev. Patrick Faulhaber, Providence
Roseanne Camacho, Providence
Sarah Gleason, Providence
Shawn Selleck, Providence
Suzanne Wernevi, Providence
Suzie Nakasian, Providence
Virginia Harkey, Providence
William (Bill) Templeton, Providence
William Kliy, Providence
Zak Mettger, Providence
Catherine Giusti, Richmond
Judy Ortman, Riverside
Pamela Poniatowski, Riverside
Suzanne Craig, Riverside
Nancy Gage, Rumford
E Ann Scott, Slatersville
Wendy Warburton, Saunderstown
Josh Daly, South Kingstown
David Booth, Tiverton
Barbara Holtzman, Wakefield
Kathleen Gorman, Wakefield
Beth Armstrong, Warren
Joanne DeVoe, Warren
Catherine Zelazny, Warwick
Cheryl L. Ludwig, Warwick
Donna Schmader, Warwick
Elizabeth Dietz, Warwick
Eve Condon, Warwick
Jamil Jorge, Warwick
Joanne Borodemos, Warwick
Kamila Barzykowski, Warwick
Karen Krinsky, Warwick
Kelsie Reed, Warwick
Kyra B, Warwick
Nicholas Schmader, Warwick
Paula S. Greenwood, Warwick
Richard Kyte, Warwick
Dee Davies LaMay, West Kingston
Kimberley Dana Brown, West Kingston
John Cavaliere, West Warwick
Robert Iovino-Zuniga, West Warwick
Samantha Cullen-Fry, West Warwick
Jonathan Daly-LaBelle, Westerly
Bridget Eileen Madden, Woonsocket
Bruce Daigle, Woonsocket
Geraldine Barclay-King, Woonsocket
Kristina Contreras Fox, Woonsocket
Marcus Harmon, Woonsocket
Margaux Morisseau, Woonsocket
Sharon Lenette Harmon, Woonsocket

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