Penalties proposed for abusive lenders

The last Senate bill filed prior to a 6 p.m. Tuesday legislative deadline would expose some payday lenders to prison for abusing borrowers.

State Sen. Ben Nevers, D-Bogalusa, filed Senate Bill 679 which he said “would put them under the loan sharking act” among other changes.

Louisiana’s loansharking law states that interest rates “exceeding 45 percent per annum or the equivalent rate” constitutes “the crime of loansharking.” The felony carries penalties of fines up to $10,000 and/or a prison sentence of one to five years.

Nevers had promised he’d sponsor the legislation at a rally on the State Capitol steps in support of a payday loan revamp.

Nevers is also the sponsor of legislation, Senate Bill 84, along with state Sens. Sharon Broome, D-Baton Rouge, and Robert Adley, R-Benton, that would cap annual interest rates and fees for payday lending at 36 percent.