Three Indiana State Senators whose districts include parts of Kosciusko County voted last week to support legislation that opens the door for consumers to be charged much higher interest rates when seeking payday loans.
Republican Sens. Blake Doriot, Randy Head and Ryan Mishler supported Senate Bill 613, which would allow payday and subprime lenders to charge interest rates on small loans, in certain cases, exceeding 72 percent, which is the level currently considered to be felony loan sharking.
The bill passed 26-23 and now heads to the House for consideration. Supporters contend the legislation would provide consumers with more options. The advancing vote came despite opposition from more than 60 groups — including social service agencies, veterans organizations and religious groups — who argue such schemes can have a financially crippling impact on low-income folks.
Local Democratic leaders on Twitter (@KosciuskoDems) called the votes by the three senators “shameful.”
All three voted against another consumer credit bill, SB 104, that would have capped interest rates for payday loans at 36 percent. That bill died with a vote of 22-27.
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OFFICERS’ FATE — A lot of people are awaiting the outcome of an internal review concerning actions by two Warsaw Police Department officers who are on investigatory leave. Their actions are under scrutiny in connection with Police Chief Scott Whitaker’s investigation into a reckless driving incident on Jan. 25. The officers, who have not been named by the city, apparently objected to how Whitaker handled the incident involving an elderly couple on the south side of the city. The officers were placed on leave more than a week ago.
A recommendation could be made to the city board of works and safety. In the meantime, an executive session of the city council is scheduled for 5 p.m. Tuesday, March 5. Those types of meetings are not open to the public and details are never disclosed ahead of time. Personnel matters fall within the scope of what can be reviewed in an executive session.
Mayor Joe Thallemer said he expects a recommendation on the issue to be made in the coming week.
Meanwhile, Warsaw City Council meets Monday night. The agenda is rather short and does not include Whitaker’s cell phone proposal, which council chose not to vote on last month in light of concerns over the January incident.
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TWO EVENTS – Mayor Thallemer will deliver his annual state of the city address on Tuesday, March 12 at 2517 banquet hall. Lunch begins at 11:30 a.m. and the address will start around 12:30 p.m. The event is free, but lunch is $20 per person and registration is needed if you plan to eat. Online registration is available.
If you like hockey, it’s Warsaw Community Night March 9 when the Fort Wayne Komets host the Toledo Walleye at the Coliseum. Game time is 7:30 p.m. For ticket information, click here. Drake Price, a student at Lincoln Elementary who is struggling with health issues, is scheduled to drop the puck for the honorary start of the game.
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FREEWAY POLL — Results from this week’s InkFreeNews poll are as interesting as they are unscientific. The question asked readers what path they prefer if a new limited access highway is constructed to replace US 30 from Ohio to Valparaiso. Results of the poll can be seen in the box to the right.
Warsaw and Kosciusko County officials are still working on developing three options that the public will be able to review in a few months. The options include: A path that would track north of Warsaw, south of Warsaw or follow closely with the existing highway. All three face challenges.
According to the poll, the most popular route, receiving 36 percent of the votes, involves following the existing highway path. Apparently, very few (18 percent) like the idea of going around the southern part of Warsaw.
These stats are based on results as of Friday, March 1.
While I’m no engineer, given the complexities to the north and the need for overpasses and development of frontage roads for the middle path, I thought the southern path would prove more popular. But that only attracted support from 18 percent of the participants. On top of that, 16 percent would rather stick with what we have right now. I’m guessing those folks don’t drive too often on US 30 through Warsaw.
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QUOTE OF THE WEEK — Speaking of US 30, Warsaw officials still must deal with the need to upgrade access to the existing highway in Warsaw. In fact, the Indiana Department of Transportation has agreed to make improvements at the Anchorage Road and Parker Street intersections where additional lanes will be added to relieve congestion.
The idea of upgrading those roads while looking at a future highway might seem odd, but it is the “the nature of the game,” said Warsaw City Planner Jeremy Skinner.
The idea of a limited access highway seems to enjoy strong support at the state level, but completion is still probably 15 to 20 years “down the road.” and officials have more pressing issues.
“We’re driving two vehicles to the same show,” Skinner said. “The short-term vehicle and the long-term vehicle. There’s no two ways around it. We have to continue to make the improvements to improve the safety.”