Texas Observer: Rep. Gary Elkins’ Payday Loan Biz Faces Criminal Prosecutions

July 17, 2014

State Rep. Gary Elkins (R-Houston) has a certain attachment to Texas’ payday loan business. After all, he helped pioneer the current model, in which payday lenders operate as “credit service organizations” and can avoid Texas’ laws against usury. Elkins owns a chain of payday stores across the state and has fought strenuously at the Legislature and in court to prevent any new regulation of the industry.

“[I’m] not ashamed of what I do,” he once told the Texas House while trying to kill off a package of modest reforms sponsored by former Republican state Rep. Vicki Truitt. (Ironically, Truitt is now a lobbyist for ACE Cash America, a payday firm that was just levied a $10 million fine for illegally coercing borrowers into taking on more debt. But that’s another story.)

And now Elkins is fighting his latest adversary: the cities of Dallas and San Antonio. If there’s a threat to payday and title lenders in Texas, it’s the growing number of cities—18 at last count—regulating the stores. Dallas was the first, passing two ordinances in 2011, requiring lending storefronts to register and abide by zoning rules, and setting limits on the size of loans and the number of times a borrower can roll a loan over.  Read more here.