For Military Families, Loan Rate Increases Are Bad News
For the past few weeks, military commanders at installations in North Carolina have expressed their opposition to proposed bills introduced in the House and Senate that would allow finance companies to raise charges on their short-term loans.
In spite of this opposition, the House recently passed this legislation, which sends a strong negative signal to the military and military families living in North Carolina.
Annual percentage rates on these loans can already go as high as 54 percent. Military members returning from deployments and struggling to make ends meet are especially susceptible and have been victims of these types of loans in the past. This legislation will only make matters worse when we can least afford it.
On Memorial Day, we remembered those who have given their lives fighting for our country, and it is also a time to remember the sacrifices of those who are fighting for our country today and ensure that we do everything that we can to support our military and their families.
North Carolina has the fourth-largest active-duty military presence in the country and is home to hundreds of thousands of military personnel who, along with our N.C. National Guard and Reserves, are critical to our nation’s defense.
While our troops are engaged in wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and other places, military families are faced with high deployment rates, often dealing with disabilities and death, and it is very difficult for a considerable number of military families to stay on top of their finances and make ends meet.
Increasing the interest rates and other fees that finance companies are allowed to charge for short-term loans does not help soldiers or anyone else out of their financial problems and will only make situations more difficult for soldiers who are having financial problems to repay high interest debts.
The N.C. commissioner of banks has determined that changing the law is unnecessary and that the industry is profitable. The only people who benefit from HB 810 are the finance companies. While they will reap millions of dollars in extra profits, military members will continue to suffer the consequences of these loans.
Members who are unable to resolve financial problems are dealt with under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, and regardless of their combat experience and value to their units, they do not last long in the military. We can’t afford to lose our combat experienced soldiers.
North Carolina wants to be known as the most military-friendly state in the country, and we appreciate all of the efforts in the past to support our military and their families, but this recognition needs to be earned. And it is imperative that all of us, including the members of the North Carolina General Assembly, do everything possible to assist and support our military and their families.
Military commanders and civilian leaders in North Carolina fought hard to restrict short-term interest rates in the past and have shown that HB 810, if it is passed, will be extremely detrimental to the well-being of our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and the military families who reside in North Carolina.
As a former commander and retired general officer, in concert with the active military commanders in North Carolina, I am asking the members of the House and Senate to oppose HB 810 and any legislation that is introduced that would raise rates and fees on these loans.
We should be supporting and protecting the brave men and women who fight to preserve our freedom rather than helping finance companies prey upon them and their families for excessive profit.
Paul Dordal is a retired Air Force brigadier general and former wing commander of the former Pope Air Force Base who serves on the North Carolina Advisory Commission on Military Affairs. This was written for N.C. Policy Watch.
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