In case you were wondering, House Financial Institutions Committee Chairman Michael Cunningham (R-Rogersville) and Vice-Chairman/Payday Lender Don Wells (R-Cabool) are not sorry they rigged a committee hearing so that payday loan lobbyists could advertise for their industry without input from differing viewpoints. The Tribune's Terry Ganey follows up on his story from last week about their outrageous meeting:
Cunningham said today he did not know his committee had lost control of Still’s bill. And he didn’t want to discuss the payday loan presentation except to say that news coverage of the meeting was unfair.
“It’s not going to do any good,” Cunningham told a reporter. “I just have no use for you. I hate irresponsible reporting like National Enquirer-type crap.”
Wells said in a letter that he held the informational presentation for the industry because Still had been conducting public meetings throughout the state pointing to the problems created by payday loans.
“These meetings have been largely one sided in favor of my colleague’s legislation and have not provided a constructive forum for discussing the purpose and need for this type of credit in the marketplace,” Wells said. “Representative Still’s tightly controlled agenda provided little opportunity for industry representatives to provide information at these public meetings.”
Still has hosted sessions with local state lawmakers in Columbia, Kansas City, Hannibal, St. Louis and Springfield. She said today that payday loan industry representatives showed up at all meetings and were given an opportunity to present their views.
“They had 30 minutes in St. Louis,” Still said. “I would love to have 30 minutes of uninterrupted time before that committee.”
It's incredible to hear Wells assert that his farce of a committee hearing was justified because Rep. Mary Still (D-Columbia) had presentations on the subject around the state -- meetings that allowed industry representatives an opportunity to make their case. Wells sounds even more ridiculous when you remember that Still's meetings were not sanction by the House because Speaker Ron Richard wouldn't assign her legislation to a committee for consideration.
It's a shame that Wells and Cunningham don't recognize their mistake, and refused to hold an actual hearing on Still's proposal. They could have voted it down if they wanted to -- but they're afraid to have a real discussion.
If you're interested in reading a little more of the "National Enquirer-type crap," I'd recommend:
- The Tribune: "Payday lenders get solo hearing; Panel vice chair owns loan shop."
- The Tribune: Dems pull payday loan bill from panel, Hearing triggers procedural shift.
- The Star: "Rep. Don Wells' fraudulent payday loan meeting"
- The Star: "Capitol Watch: Payday loan poppycock in Missouri"?
- The Post-Dispatch: "Payday loans get free pass in Mo. House committee?"