Math doesn’t work for Arizona payday loan industry

The industry that provides small short-term loans is fighting in the Legislature to keep itself alive beyond a June 30 termination date that was included in the authorization law enacted 10 years ago.

Almost a month after the bill failed to even reach its first hurdle — a committee vote in the House — the measure remains stalled, even though the industry has earned the recent backing of several major business advocacy groups.

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The bill was blasted by lawmakers from both parties after voters in 2008 soundly rejected an initiative that would have allowed the lenders to stay open permanently. Rep. Andy Tobin of Paulden, the bill’s Republican sponsor, said the lack so far of significant bipartisan support could doom the measure in the 60-member House.

“I’m not going to push to get 31 Republican members on this when the industry needs to go out and make this work,” he said. “They failed the last time. Now they’ve got another opportunity. [Read the full article]

An analyst said J.C. Penney Co. Inc. may see some of its expected financial gains stripped away by rising gas prices that are expected to climb by 38 percent in the first quarter and high unemployment, both of which could cut into sales.

R.W. Baird analyst Erika K. Maschmeyer told investors in a research note Monday that the department store chain’s fourth-quarter results and 2010 outlook — both reported Friday — were above expectations.

On Friday, executives said the chain’s fourth-quarter profit fell 5.2 percent, dragged down by a big expense for its pension plan. However, by reducing holiday inventory and sticking to planned promotions, the company boosted its gross profit margin from a year earlier.

All told, Penney earned $200 million, or 84 cents per share, in the period ended Jan. 30. That compares with $211 million, or 95 cents per share, in last year’s fourth quarter.

Excluding the pension expense, the company earned $1.02 per share. [Read the full article]

A Utah company will show off a Personal Teller Machine that some banks are using to provide live services by video around the clock.

Sandy-based uGenius Technology will promote the new technology at a governmental affairs conference in Washington, D.C., on Monday. The conference is sponsored by the Credit Union National Association.

The Utah company has sold almost 50 of the machines to banks and credit unions in Michigan, North Carolina, New York and Pennsylvania.

The machines let motorists talk to a bank teller at a remote location and do any kind of banking at any hour of the day or night. [Read the full article]

The Oregon Legislature has sent Gov. Ted Kulongoski a bill to bar many employers from checking the credit of job seekers.

Thousands of people have bad credit because of layoffs and medical bills that are beyond their control and have nothing to do with their job qualifications, according to the bill’s backers, mostly Democrats. And more than half the nation’s businesses use credit histories in hiring decisions.

Opponents, mainly Republicans, say the Legislature shouldn’t interfere with business personnel decisions.

The House passed the bill Monday on a 33-26 vote, largely along party lines. Earlier, the Senate passed it with a similar partisan split.

The bill has several exemptions, including banks, credit unions and law enforcement agencies. It would also exempt employers if the credit information is “substantially job-related” and the employer discloses the check to the applicant. [Read the full article]

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