Why FHA Action is Challenging IM-22

im-22-oppose-pieceInitiated Measure 22 Title: An initiated measure to revise State campaign finance and lobbying laws, create a publicly funded campaign finance program, create an ethics commission, and appropriate funds.

On Election Day, November 8, 2016, SD Citizens voted for and approved IM-22 [YES: 180,580…51.62%;  NO: 169,220…48.38%].  One might think this would be the end of the story but it isn’t.

It isn’t because as the truth and ramifications of IM-22 are clearly uncovered many are beginning to have serious second thoughts about this 14,000-word, 34 page, 70-section bill.

The Family Heritage Alliance Action knew from the beginning that IM-22 was bad law and that’s why we joined the statewide coalition opposing its passage.  On November 23, 2016, following IM-22’s very slim margin of victory, the FHA Action became one of many plaintiffs in a court case challenge of the constitutionality of IM-22.  We are mentioned on page 4, number 13 of this complaint.  It reads:

Dale Bartscher

FHA Executive Director Dale Bartscher

         13.     Plaintiff South Dakota Family Heritage Alliance Action, Inc. (“FHA Action”), is a 501(c)(4) organization located in Rapid City, South Dakota, organized under South Dakota law and in good standing.  FHA Action employs a lobbyist named Dale Bartscher who has petitioned the state government in Pierre on multiple issues during past legislative sessions and intends to do so again in 2017.  After past legislative sessions, FHA Action has published a legislative scorecard and intends to do so again in the future.  The cost of publishing and distributing the legislative scorecard exceeds $500.

The FHA Action believes IM-22 may have good intentions, but unfortunately IM-22 uses methods that appear clearly unconstitutional and will chill legitimate political activity by non-profit organizations, such as the Family Heritage Alliance Action, and individuals across the political spectrum.  FHA Action wants to promote ethical government, but even the goal of making government more ethical does NOT justify ignoring important constitutional constraints like separation of powers and equal protection that are also intended to protect the people of South Dakota.

Although IM22 has many problems, some that particularly concerned FHA Action were disclosure and reporting requirements that, in our opinion, unconstitutionally required FHA to disclose the names of its top five donors on some public communications and to include many of its contributors’ names and employers on publicly available financial disclosure statements.  There are many employees and employers who have different views on politics.  Employers may not want to be associated with their employees’ views and vice-versa.  This tension could chill legitimate political activity across the political spectrum not to mention jeopardize the employer/employee relationship.

We also believed these new reporting requirements would have discouraged legitimate political activity and greatly increased FHA Action’s administrative costs without any impact on government corruption.

FHA Action absolutely believes in the importance of ethical government and would be happy to support new laws that promote ethical government without violating the constitution or chilling legitimate political activity.

Once again, this lawsuit is asking the court to review these important constitutional questions and other potential problems with IM-22, and to delay implementation of IM-22 until the court system can decide whether IM-22 is valid or not.  In the meantime, as we let the court system do its job, the FHA Action will be ‘boots on the ground’ during the 2017 Legislative Session as we champion those values we cherish of Faith, Family and Freedom.  Pray for us and follow our work at the SD State Capitol by keeping an eye on this site.

Vote Yes on IM 21 for Faith, Family and Freedom from Payday Lending

paydayloans1At Family Heritage Alliance, we are dedicated to protecting and promoting faith, family and freedom. That is why we have joined with faith groups from across South Dakota to support a measure on the November 8 ballot that will put an end to a practice that harms families and threatens their financial freedom. We endorse the Initiated Measure 21 to cap predatory payday lending at 36% interest and reject Amendment U’s fake interest rate cap.

Payday lending is at odds with our faith.

Proverbs 28:8 says whoever increases his wealth through excessive interest collects it for one who is kind to the poor. This means that those who profit off the poor can count on a day of reckoning when the tables are turned. South Dakotans can make this Election Day a day of reckoning for predatory and excessive payday lenders. They make loans to people who are struggling to get to their next payday, and here’s where the excessive interest comes in. They charge up to 574% annual interest rates!

Payday lending harms families.

Strong finances make strong families. Any family can fall on hard times and be tempted by the call of quick cash. But with payday lending, what starts as a two-week loan routinely becomes long-term, unmanageable debt with devastating consequences for families.

Studies have found that payday borrowers have trouble paying other bills, and have had increased delays in medical care and prescription drug purchases. Borrowers have had their bank accounts closed and have even filed for bankruptcy. These are serious financial consequences from a so-called “service” that is supposed to help, not harm, families in a time of financial need.

Payday lending interferes with financial freedom.

Payday lending is, in fact, designed to be a trap. The system is set up so that the lenders have access to the borrower’s bank account, so they get paid before any other bill. The full loan is due in such a short amount of time that the borrower is forced to refinance the loan, paying another high-interest fee. This happens, over and over again every payday for many families. Borrowers are routinely trapped in a long-term cycle of debt that they cannot escape. The average borrower pays about $800 on a $300 loan, and may be caught in the cycle for weeks, months, and for some, even years.

The ballot measures.

There are two measures addressing payday lending on the ballot. The first one, Amendment U, is a scam by the payday lending industry meant to trick us into thinking it is an interest rate cap of 18% – but it does not apply to written agreements! So it is no cap at all. Please vote NO on U.

The second one is IM 21, the 36% interest rate cap, which is considered an acceptable rate for consumer loans. Congress has capped payday and title loans to active military personnel at 36%. Vote YES on 21.

We know you have a lot of business to take care of on Election Day, but please take the time to make your voice heard on this important issue. It will have a big impact on South Dakota families who need a little protection in hard times. So go all the way down the ballot – vote NO on U and YES on 21. Vote your faith values, so that our families may be free from payday lending predators.