Tag Archives: Wanda Adams

Houston City Council PASSES Payday Lending Reforms

Today Houston saw yet another huge ordinance brought forward, in what many are referring to as Mayor Parker’s post-election “Progressive cram”. Like college kids studying for the most vociferous of finals, the Houston City Council passed major regulations on Credit Access Businesses, or issuers of Payday and Auto Title loans. The ordinance proved to be one of the year’s most contentious issues, and CM Christie even attempted a last-minute amendment that would’ve essentially gutted the whole ordinance. It would scrap the requirement to pay a portion of the principal with each payment, and increase the amount of income used to calculate the loan. These issues form the purpose for the ordinance because it gives borrowers a pathway to break the cycle of debt for the loans. The amendment failed 11 votes to 6.

After much discussion, the Payday Lending ordinance passed by a vote of 15 to 2, with only outgoing Council Members Brown and Rodriguez voting against it. This brings Houston in line with other major cities across Texas have already passed payday reforms. But as Texas’ largest city, Houston’s passage will allow the reforms to have a significant impact.

The heart of the new regulations is as follows…

a) Creation of a new database that catalogs (and presumably monitors) all credit access businesses.

b) Loan amount cannot exceed 20 percent of gross monthly income for a payday loan. For an auto title loan, the amount borrowed must be the lesser of either 3 percent of the borrowers annual income, or 70 percent of the automobile retail value.

c) Loans must be paid off in a maximum of 4 installments, and each payment must reduce the loan principle by at least 25 percent.

d) Distribution of consumer credit counseling materials to all borrowers who seek to renew their payday or auto title loan.

The ordinance joins prominent legislation to combat wage theft, and an executive order extending employee benefits to same-sex spouses… all enacted after Parker’s reelection on November 5th.

Direct from Mike Morris of the Houston Chronicle

“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.”

Yet more evidence that Mayor Annise Parker’s final term promises to be an exciting one for Progressive Texans. It was also a fitting final meeting for Wanda Adams, one of the Mayor’s strongest allies, as she concludes her tenure at City Council. Payday lending reform was one of the last major issues she wanted to tackle as a Council Member. Adams moves on to the HISD Board of Trustees.

Wendy Davis, Annise Parker hold Press Conference

State Senator and Gubernatorial Candidate Wendy Davis appeared at Houston City Hall with Mayor Annise Parker, Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia, and City Council members Wanda Adams, Ed Gonzalez, Ellen Cohen and Mike Laster. The Press Conference was not broadcast live, but all local media outlets appeared to be present.

The Press Conference with Senator Davis and City leaders was to announce some major news… the City of Houston no longer has a rape kit backlog, according to the Houston Chronicle. Further Twitter reports from reliable sources are as follows

From the AP’s Juan Lozano, here’s the full article…

HOUSTON (AP) — Houston’s success in clearing its backlog of untested rape kits should be held up as a model for other cities around Texas to follow, officials said Wednesday.

Houston has spent $4.4 million in federal and city funding to address its backlog of more than 6,600 rape kits, Mayor Annise Parker said.

The funding was used by the city to send its rape kits to two outside labs for testing. Parker said she expects the testing to be completed by the end of this year or early next year.

Parker said Houston’s approach wasn’t easy or inexpensive and it came during a difficult economic time but it was the right way to deal with a problem that had been decades in the making.

“My hope is other cities around the state can learn from our approach,” she said at a news conference.

Testing and reports have been completed on nearly 2,800 cases, with 464 cases yielding usable DNA that is being entered into federal databases. Parker said one charge and one arrest have so far resulted from the testing.

Parker said while Houston was able to pay for its testing of the backlog with the help of federal funding, she is hopeful other cities around Texas will be able to take advantage of $11 million in state funding that was appropriated during this year’s legislative session to pay for the testing of a backlog of about 20,000 rape kits around the state. Officials estimate the backlog around the county is about 400,000.

State Sen. Wendy Davis, a Democratic candidate for governor who helped secure the $11 million to address the backlog around the state, attributed Houston’s success in part to bipartisan cooperation at city, state and federal levels of government to secure funding to deal with the problem.

“The city of Houston is making remarkable progress in bringing victims of sexual assault closure, bringing perpetrators to justice, making our streets safer for families … and I’m pleased it is a stellar example of what a city can do when given the kind of partnership and resources that have been provided here,” Davis said.

Davis made sure to speak about Mayor Parker’s role in the success…

“Mayor Parker has been an incredible leader on this issue.” said Davis.