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A recap of this week's Tennessee House Committee on Consumer and Human Resources over HB1242 was recapped in this Knoxville political blog:

Members of a House committee argued to stalemate Tuesday over legislation to regulate the “lawsuit lending” business, which has already been approved by the Senate, with the chairman protesting that critics are “playing games.”

Critics, meanwhile, contended that the chairman, Rep. Jimmy Eldridge, R-Jackson, wrongfully rejected an attempt to have a vote on sending the measure to a study committee for a year, which would effectively kill it for the current session.

The bill (HB1242) is pushed by the Chamber of Commerce and sponsored by House Speaker Pro Tempore Curtis Johnson, R-Clarksville. As amended in the House Consumer and Human Resources Committee, it would require registration of companies making loans to those involved in litigation and impose various regulations, including limits on how much interest they can charge.

The interest cap would be 10 percent plus $360 per year in additional fees for each $1,000 loaned for a maximum of three years.

Rep. Johnnie Turner, D-Memphis, said that this was far less than can be charged for “payday loans,” which can amount to more than 200 percent interest. She suggested that the matter should be studied until next session.

After discussion ensued over whether Turner was making a formal motion to send the bill to a study committee, Eldridge declared she had not made a motion and tried to push the bill to a quick vote. That brought an unusual motion from Rep. Joe Towns, D-Memphis, to challenge the ruling of the chair – voted down 8-3 by the panel’s Republican majority. But the committee wound up adjourning without voting on the bill itself.

“Next week, we’re not going to get into all this debate and everything,” said Eldridge.

Originally posted to FreeMarkets on Thu Feb 13, 2014 at 05:50 AM PST.

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