Remember a few months ago when there was this big fight over drastically reducing the rate that pawnshops and payday lenders were able to charge? ANC 4B wanted to stop a pawnshop from going in at Georgia Avenue and Fern Street NW, so they got Councilmember Muriel Bowser to pass emergency legislation that reduced the chargeable interest from five percent per month to two percent per month for new pawnbrokers only. Then, she pushed forward with a permanent version that would extend the interest rate cap to all pawnshops, and make new shops subject to ANC “great weight,” which would require DCRA to adequately answer all concerns raised before granting a license.
At today’s legislative meeting, the bill survived a last-ditch attempt by Councilmember David Catania to negate the great weight provision for pawnshops relocating within the same ward. But it after intense lobbying from both the behemoth Famous Pawn and the independent shops like Crown Pawnbrokers, the interest rate will stay the same, and ANC great weight will not apply to license renewals (oh, and the final bill doesn’t have the word “predatory” in it, which pawnbrokers found particularly offensive).
On top of ANC great weight, there are a few more protections in the final bill; pawnbrokers will be required to dispense itemized receipts, and borrowers will be allowed to rescind their loan on the same day with only a $2 charge. For currently operating pawnshops, however, life can pretty much carry on as usual.