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Sheridan defends payday loan bill

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JAMES P. LEUTE
February 23, 2010
— Assembly Speaker Mike Sheridan reiterated Monday that recently passed payday lending legislation is strong even though it resulted from compromise.

“My job as a leader is to get 50 votes and make sure I can pass good, strong legislation,” Sheridan said in remarks to the Janesville Noon Rotary Club. “This is tough legislation.”


The Janesville Democrat briefly touched on the payday loan bill while recounting legislative highlights of the past year. He didn’t address his personal relationship with a lobbyist for the industry, and Rotarians didn’t ask about it in a brief question-and-answer session.


The Responsible Lending Act, now before the Senate, restricts payday loans to $600, prohibits auto title loans and establishes a database to limit borrowers to one loan at a time.


The bill doesn’t include a cap on interest rates. Sheridan co-sponsored a bill in the last legislative session capping interest rates, but he recently voted against it.


Sheridan said Monday he takes issue with claims that his position on payday loan regulation softened or changed last September while he was dating the lobbyist.


He said his position changed in 2008 to a two-prong approach: Stricter regulation, and, if necessary, elimination of the industry.


“I want to state that publicly because it’s been a tough three weeks and some things were printed in the newspaper that weren’t factual,” he said.


Also Monday, Sheridan said he has an ongoing dialogue with General Motors’ officials about the future of the closed Janesville assembly plant. But, he said, the community needs to move on and not get its hopes up that the automaker will reopen the plant.


He also said he’s had numerous conversations with Gov. Jim Doyle and Talgo representatives about the possibility that the Spanish train maker will open a manufacturing facility in Janesville.


The company is looking at two sites in Janesville, two in Milwaukee and one in both Appleton and Racine in what Sheridan referred to as a “fierce competition.”



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