About a dozen Iowa college students protested Wednesday at the statehouse in Des Moines against House Speaker Christopher Rants. The students chanted “One, two, three, four — put a vote on the floor. Five, six, seven, eight — Rants we don’t appreciate.” They charge that the Sioux City Republican is blocking legislation that would cap interest rates on car-title loans.
University of Iowa student Chris Sims is a social-work major and says she knows from observing low-income clients how important it is to avoid heavy debt. “I think that it’s clear that vulnerable Iowans don’t have a voice and we’re trying to make sure that they do and we do and that people actually listen to voices and not just dollars,” she says.
The state senate has voted two years in a row to cap interest rates on car-title loans but the bills have stalled in the house. Sims says she blames that on campaign contributions from companies like LoanMax.
“We’re all social work students and plan to go out in the field, most of us with a masters degree in social work, to help people that are vulnerable and to hopefully do some political advocacy,” she says. “This is clearly an opportunity for us to talk about how democracy is not working right now at our statehouse.”
But Speaker Rants says if companies can’t charge higher interest rates on high-risk loans, they’ll stop offering them, leaving some borrowers with no place to go.