There’s less than two weeks until Texas 101 Day. To get ready, this week and next, I’m sending emails that will hit on the topics we’re going to discuss in detail that day. In advance of the event, I’d really like to hear your thoughts.
The first topic: pay day and auto title lending.
In the past few months, there’s been a lot of talk about these businesses, and for good reason. They are everywhere. In parts of Arlington and Grand Prairie, I’ve seen two on the same street corner.
How prevalent are they? According to the Office of Consumer Credit Commissioner, the Texas agency with oversight over these businesses, there are close to 300 payday and auto title lenders in Tarrant County, 57 of them located in and around the district I represent.
These businesses hit the financially vulnerable harder in Texas than in any other state. In a report released last month, The Pew Charitable Trusts found that because Texas has no limit on how much a person can be charged for a loan, our state’s citizens pay a higher price than they would in any other state in the nation. They found that in Texas, to borrow $300 for a five-month period, on average, a person will be charged a 454 percent annual interest rate and it will ultimately cost the borrower $701.
Unfortunately, despite some meaningful efforts, not much has been done by the Legislature to fully address this issue. As a result, cities are finding ways to regulate these industries by passing local ordinances limiting the amount one can borrow and where the businesses can be located.
It’s a big issue and I need your help to address it.
Now on to topic number two. I’ll keep this one brief, since it’s something I’ve emailed about often during the past few months: healthcare. On Friday, you may have seen a graphic on my Facebook page or in my Twitter feed. It just said “733,757 #Covered”. This number represents how many Texans found insurance coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace.
It’s a pretty big number, but it needs to be even bigger.
As I have mentioned in previous emails, over 1 million Texans fall into what is called the “coverage gap”. These are working, uninsured adults who make too little money to receive a subsidy for buying coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace.
Our Governor has turned away billions of our taxpayer dollars that would have provided coverage for this group. This short-sighted decision will mean lost revenue for our state and continued costs that will be spread out and paid by all Texans.
Of course, it’s not too late to close this gap and to help our neighbors get covered. It’s a team effort. Even with the tens of thousands of calls I made, and the events I hosted, I can do more and we can all do more. With the next enrollment period just six months away, I need your help. On May 17th, we’ll discuss how you can.
To wrap up, I want to hear your thoughts on these and the other acute issues impacting our community. If you live in Arlington or Grand Prairie, please join us and feel free to bring your neighbors and your friends.
Don’t forget, we are providing lunch.
So, spread the word. Let’s improve our community and help our neighbors. Join me on May 17th.
P.S. To ensure that we have enough materials and lunches, please RSVP by clicking here or by calling 817-459-2800. You may also email firstname.lastname@example.org to RSVP or to share your thoughts on these or any other important issue.