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UPDATE: Wis. gov shrugs off rent-to-own defeat

UPDATED Friday, May 24, 2013 --- 5:22 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Republican Gov. Scott Walker is shrugging off state lawmakers' decision to nix his plan to exempt rent-to-own businesses from Wisconsin's consumer protection act.

Under the consumer protection act, rent-to-own companies must disclose their interest rates. Industry supporters say their transactions don't involve credit and as such shouldn't fall under the act. Walker's plan would have exempted them from the disclosure requirements and created new statutes specifically tailored to them.

A handful of Republican lawmakers sided with industry critics who insist the businesses prey on the poor and pressed the Legislature's budget committee to wipe out the governor's proposal. The committee deleted the provisions Thursday.

Walker told reporters Friday he believes rent-to-own business should have a right to operate in Wisconsin but new regulations for them were never a priority.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

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UPDATED Thursday, May 23, 2013 --- 10:20 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Opponents to the rent-to-own industry are making one last plea for the Legislature's budget committee to reject Gov. Scott Walker's proposal to exempt the stores from Wisconsin's consumer protection laws.

The Joint Finance Committee plans to vote on Walker's proposal on Thursday.

Madison Area Urban Ministry executive director Linda Ketcham says the proposal is immoral and does not protect poor people from those who seek to exploit them.

She joined with Democratic lawmakers and others to speak out against the measure at a Capitol news conference minutes before the vote was to be taken.

Industry advocates maintain the contracts aren't credit transactions and shouldn't fall under the state's consumer protection laws.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

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UPDATED Thursday, May 23, 2013 -- 5:30 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- The Legislature's finance committee is set to decide whether to exempt rent-to-own stores from Wisconsin's consumer protection laws.

Rent-to-own businesses offer customers a chance to rent items without a credit check. Customers can exit and rejoin their contracts with an option to buy the items when they fulfill the terms. Critics contend the businesses prey on the poor and charge exorbitant interest rates. Industry advocates maintain the contracts aren't credit transactions and shouldn't fall under the state's consumer protection laws.

Gov. Scott Walker's budget would create a new section of state law governing the industry. The new statutes wouldn't require the businesses to disclose interest rates.

The finance committee is expected to review Walker's proposal Thursday. The panel could approve the plan as is, modify it or delete it.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

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UPDATED Wednesday, May 22, 2013 --- 1:23 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Two Republican state senators want the Legislature's finance committee to delete wording in Gov. Scott Walker's executive budget that would exempt rent-to-own businesses from Wisconsin's consumer protection laws.

Sens. Mike Ellis and Rob Cowles sent a letter Wednesday to committee co-chairs Sen. Alberta Darling and Rep. John Nygren saying the plan should be debated as a separate bill. They also say they haven't heard from anyone who supports the proposal and the GOP should fight for vulnerable people.

Consumer advocates contend rent-to-own businesses prey on the needy by charging what they say are exorbitant interest rates. The industry counters customers pay for extra value such as the right to opt out of leases.

The committee is set to review the provisions Thursday. Darling and Nygren's spokespeople didn't immediately return messages.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

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Posted: Sunday, May 19, 2013 -- 6:56 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- The Legislature's Joint Finance Committee is poised to consider provisions in Gov. Scott Walker's executive budget that would exempt rent-to-own stores from Wisconsin's consumer protection laws.

Rent-to-own businesses offer customers a chance to rent items such as appliances and electronics with no credit check. Customers can exit and rejoin the deals as they wish with an option to buy the items when they complete their contracts.

Critics contend the businesses charge exorbitant interest rates and prey on the needy. But industry advocates counter the contracts aren't credit transactions and shouldn't be subject to the state's consumer protection laws.

Walker's budget would create a new section of law governing rent-to-own that wouldn't require the businesses to disclose interest rates.

The finance committee is expected to review the provisions Thursday.

Copyright Associated Press 2013


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