Proposition Debate: Ripoffs Or Reforms?


Needed reform — or consumer ripoff?

Protections for homeowners — or lawyers?

Relief for business — or a cover-up for lawbreakers?

An overdue raise — or a big waste of money?

These questions raised by sometimes controversial, always confusing ballot measures provoked a lively discussion recently during a community forum meeting in Payson’s Democratic Party Headquarters.

The Roundup published the results of the discussion of four of those propositions earlier. Today’s story will cover the remaining propositions.

Prop. 200: Payday loans

Proposition 200, the Payday Loan Reform Act, seeks to make permanent and revamp industry laws that expire in July of 2010. Those laws currently exempt payday loan companies from usury laws limiting the interest rate on loans to 36 percent. Some of the companies charge a 400 percent interest rate.

The measure would limit fees for bounced checks and prohibit payday loan companies from loaning money to customers with outstanding repayment plans.

The repayment plans, another part of the measure, divide the balance owed by a customer into four parts. However, a customer is only permitted to enter the repayment plan once a year.

Supporters say that the finances of hardworking Americans are stretched thin in these tough economic times.

Stan Barnes, a former Arizona state senator, wrote that, “the payday loan industry ought to be regulated in a tough but fair manner.”

Opponents include Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard, who wrote, “The measure would allow payday lenders to continue charging triple-digit interest rates.” The bill was written by industry lobbyists and lawyers, he added.

Prop. 201: Homeowners rights

Proposition 201, the Homeowners Bill of Rights, would establish a 10-year warranty on new homes. According to the legislative analysis, the law would allow prospective buyers to sue over construction defects in homes. It would also ban arbitration and other means of settling problems besides going to court.

“The Homeowners Bill of Rights is based on the notion that if you buy a house and it turns out to be poorly built, you should be able to do something about it,” wrote representatives from Interfaith Worker Justice.

Opponents include the Professional Fire Fighters of Arizona, which wrote, the measure would increase the cost of homes.

Payson Realtor Cliff Potts said, “I’m afraid of it.” He worried that the 10-year statute of limitations on lawsuits was excessive.

Bob Dalby, also of Payson, said that sometimes the newest, thought-to-be best materials are used on a house, only for homeowners and builders to discover later that the materials cause problems. “Sometimes it’s not the builder’s fault,” Dalby said.

Prop. 202: Undocumented workers

Proposition 202, Stop Illegal Hiring, changes enforcement measures for employers caught hiring illegal immigrants. Although the measure would allow anyone to file a complaint of illegal hiring, if the complaint was found “frivolous,” then that person would be guilty of a misdemeanor, according to the legislative analysis.

Also, the measure provides immunity for employers who use the federal E-Verify system for confirming work eligibility.

The coalition supporting the measure wrote it would improve the existing employer sanctions laws, would allow attorneys latitude in deciding whether they investigate complaints, and would require complainants to identify themselves instead of retaining anonymity.

Opponents say the measure would gut existing employer sanctions laws.

Prop. 300: Lawmakers’ salaries

The last proposition, State Legislator Salaries, number 300, seeks to raise legislative salaries from $24,000 to $30,000.

Supporters argue that good salaries will attract the “best and brightest to legislative service.”

The single letter of opposition in the voter’s pamphlet, was written by Powell Gammill, a congressional candidate in Phoenix.

“The role of the legislature is quite simple,” he wrote. “Pass an annual budget and go home.”

Gammill advised against paying legislators more for a job “they currently cannot seem to do.”


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