In the end, it wasn’t close.
The Houston City Council overwhelmingly passed restrictions on payday and auto title lenders Wednesday, avoiding rumored parliamentary maneuvers to delay the vote and calling on the state Legislature to follow suit.
The vote was 15-2, with Councilwoman Helena Brown and Councilman James Rodriguez opposed. Rodriguez did not seek to delay the measure as had been speculated.
“Something must be done; something should be done,” Councilman Andrew Burks said. “Our Legislature, they had the ball and dropped it. I don’t like this, but I have to vote for it because … this is the only thing on the table, and it does do something.”
Councilwoman Wanda Adams, who said her office has helped seniors get back cars that had been repossessed after they defaulted on title loans, praised the outcome.
“I’m so proud to know we are taking a stand in protecting our constituents throughout our community,” Adams said. “I think this is something right.”
The measure will take effect July 1, with the city’s new budget year.
The Chron story from yesterday morning about the vote that was scheduled to take place made it sound like it would be closer, though it didn’t quote any member of Council that claimed to be undecided. The two that did vote against it were not a surprise. It’s what CM Brown does, and CM Rodriguez, the subject of a scathing column by Lisa Falkenberg that made Campos see red, was known to not object to payday lenders. The only question was whether CM Rodriguez would tag the ordinance – he was absent at the Council meeting last week and thus eligible to apply a tag, though that is usually not done – which would have the effect of pushing it onto the new Council. As it turns out, that likely would not have made any difference.
But I’m glad they didn’t wait. This was important, it needed to get done, and now there’s that much more time next year to do other things. Even with the head start, there are still plenty of items on Mayor Parker’s third term agenda. So far, so good. Statements praising the ordinance have been sent out by Sens. Rodney Ellis and Sylvia Garcia, as well as the AARP, who like Sen. Ellis calls the ordinance a message to the Lege to get its act together. PDiddie, Stace, Texas Leftist, Texpatriate, and the Observer have more.