Most Utahns want stronger consumer controls on the state’s payday loan industry, a new UtahPolicy poll finds.


Payday loans have been an issue in about every general legislative session over the past few years. Lawmakers convene Jan. 26 for their 2015, 45-day general session and payday loan regulation will again be an issue.

And such loans – which can reach over 400 percent annually in Utah’s relatively-unregulated industry – and those who provide them were at the heart of disgraced former AG John Swallow’s 2012 campaign donation scandal.

Pollster Dan Jones & Associates finds in a recent statewide survey that 57 percent of registered voters “strongly” or “somewhat” favor an idea that would limit the amount of debt a person could place himself in via payday loans.

Thirty-seven percent oppose such limits. The poll was conducted Dec. 2-10 of 609 registered voters and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.97 percent.

 

Jones asked: “Utah’s payday loan industry has been controversial in the Legislature. One proposed reform would establish a central database tracking payday loans and setting limits on the number of loans and loan balances a consumer can have. Any consumer who has more loans than allowed, or a balance higher than the limit, would be ineligible for additional loans. Opponents say borrowers should be able to get as many loans as they can obtain without any balance limits.

 “Do you favor or oppose a law establishing such a database tracking payday loans and setting limits?”

Utah Republicans are generally weary of business regulation.

But even they like this idea of controlling payday loan debt – 54 percent of Republicans said they favor this method, while 41 percent oppose.

Democrats greatly favor these payday loan controls, 65-30 percent; while political independents favor them, 60-33 percent.

Younger adults may find the need to use such loans more than older, more financially established people.

Yet Jones found that those 18-24 years old favor the new payday loan controls 69-20 percent; and those 25-34 favor the borrowing controls, 59-27 percent.

Members of the LDS Church are counseled by their leaders to be conservative financially and not to go into heavy debt.

Jones found that 57 percent of “very active” Mormons favor the payday debt limiting idea, 37 percent oppose it.