Louisiana payday loan industry officials have created the Louisiana Payday Loan Association to help inform consumers and legislators about the accomplishments and goals of the industry.

The state's payday loan industry, during the past legislative session, tried to close loopholes in regulations, increase oversight by the Louisiana Office of Financial Institutions (OFI) and provide another way for consumers to break the debt cycle, according to a news release.

Still, the industry too often has been defined by its opponents, according to Danny Ford, a spokesman for the newly formed association.

"Our members believe they have been quiet for far too many years while the negative perception about the industry has grown," he said. "After watching the attacks take place during the 2014 Louisiana Legislative Session, industry leaders saw the need to have the truth about payday loans heard."

The state's payday loan industry overwhelmingly supported House Bill 766, which it argues gave OFI the ability to regulate online lending. Other achievements, according to Ford, include establishing a debt consolidation and extended payment plan for borrowers who felt they were not going to be able to pay off their loans and abolishing a delinquency fee.

"The public generally hears from those who are seeking to put taxpaying lenders and their employees out of business," Ford said. "Industry leaders felt that it was time to come together to form an association to educate the public about this industry and highlight what legislation we supported to benefit borrowers."

New restrictions on payday lending in Louisiana failed to win passage in the state's Senate in April as industry lobbyists argued the proposals would shutter the storefront lenders.

The measure would have limited borrowers to 10 payday loans per year and would have required payday lenders to enter transactions into a database for the Office of Financial Institutions to monitor.

A similar measure had failed in a Louisiana House committee earlier that month. House Bill 239 sought to cap the annual fees charged for payday loans at 36% interest as the annual percentage rate sometimes can top 400%.

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