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Payday loans don't belong on the ballot

by Greg Belfrage

Here we go again. Those who can't get their way in the state legislature run straight for the ballot.

This time it's Representative Steve Hickey (R-Sioux Falls). Hickey wants the public to vote on a ban on interest rates over 36 percent per year.

Hickey is feeling wounded, and rightly so, by the payday loan industry. He has been working with them over the past several months on legislation to regulate the industry. 

Payday loan companies, however, wound up opposing the legislation during testimony in Pierre. Hickey clearly wasn't amused.

"These people expressly told me to put this stuff in the bill and now they're here opposing it. They should have been in here supporting the bill. But instead they're going to face a rate cap," Hickey said. He renewed his pledge to get the ban on the ballot.

Uh-oh. Looks like the payday loan industry badly miscalculated.

However, this issue doesn't belong on the ballot. Citizens shouldn't be voting entire industries out of existence on a whim.

Love them or hate them...payday loan companies have every right to do business. America is, allegedly, a free country. If we brought every unpopular business to a vote, a lot of companies would be out of business.

If additional regulation of the payday loan industry is needed, then the burden is on Rep. Hickey to convince his colleagues and pass legislation. Taking the issue to the ballot box is completely misguided and unfair.

We don't live in a democracy. We live in a representative republic. It's time to start letting our system work as designed.

Let's save the ballot for referrals on controversial issues, instead of using it to determine every day issues best left to our elected officials.

Greg Belfrage (@belfrageshow) is heard mornings 6am-9am on KELO 1320 AM and 107.9 FM. Greg can be contacted at greg.belfrage@mwcradio.com.