DUBLIN, Ohio (12/21/07)--Ohio House Financial Institutions, Real Estate and Securities Committee members recognized the benefit of credit unions during testimony for three payday lending bills two weeks ago. Many credit unions offer small short-term loans, said John Kozlowski, Ohio Credit Union League general counsel. However, the committee also recognized that credit unions’ scope is limited. Only 25% of Ohio’s population belongs to credit unions. “Not everyone is a credit union member nor is eligible to join a credit union in the area,” Kozlowski said. Currently, check cashers in Ohio can charge borrowers 5% interest each month on their loans, and two of the bills would seek to change limits on interest rates. The first bill, H.B. 333, sponsored by state Reps. Bill Batchelder (R-Medina) and Robert Hagan (D-Youngstown), would allow check-cashing lenders to charge 36% annually on loans. H.B. 358, sponsored by Rep. Tyrone Yates (D-Cincinnati), would allow lenders to charge 25% annually. H.B. 337, sponsored by Reps. Ross McGregor (R-Springfield) and Matt Lundy (D-Elyria), would maintain the current rate of 5% interest each month. The committee also considered a statewide database of loans outstanding by check-cashing businesses and financial counseling to help consumers. More hearings on the bills are expected in January.