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Jeremy focuses his practice on federal and state lending and consumer practices laws, with emphasis on the interplay between federal and state laws, joint ventures between banks and nonbank financial services providers, the development and documentation of new financial services products (especially products designed to serve the needs of unbanked and under-banked consumers), bank overdraft practices and disclosures, geographic expansion initiatives, and compliance with federal and state consumer protection laws, including statutes prohibiting unfair, deceptive and abusive acts and practices (UDAAP); usury laws; the Truth in Lending Act (TILA); the Electronic Funds Transfer Act; E-SIGN; the Equal Credit Opportunity Act; and the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).

On January 10, HB 254, entitled the True Lender Act, was introduced before the Maryland House of Delegates. The Act would amend the Maryland Commercial Law to add an article containing both predominant economic interest and totality of the circumstance tests to determine the “true lender” of a loan. A hearing on HB 254 is scheduled on January 23.

Washington now joins the list of states that have enacted or proposed legislation adopting so-called anti-evasion provisions, including legislation passed in Minnesota, discussed here, Connecticut, discussed here, Nebraska, discussed here, and proposed in Florida, discussed here. On December 5, HB 1874 was filed, which would amend the Washington Consumer Loan Act (CLA) to adopt both predominant economic interest and totality of the circumstance tests to determine the “true lender” of a loan under the CLA. It also takes aim at the use of voluntary tips, other gratuities or memberships and non-recourse loan programs.

On October 9, a Florida state senator introduced SB 146, which would add a new section to the Florida Consumer Finance Act (CFA), attempting to curb evasion of the CFA. SB 146 would treat all payments incident to the loan as interest, even if voluntary, and would adopt both predominant economic interest and totality of the circumstance tests for true lender purposes. SB 146 follows other states’ attempts to address true lender issues, including legislation passed in Minnesota, discussed here, and Connecticut, discussed here.

A California state court recently denied a preliminary injunction sought by the California Department of Financial Protection and Innovation (the DFPI) in its long-running litigation against Opportunity Financial (OppFi) contending that OppFi is the “true lender,” and therefore subject to usury limits, on loans originated by OppFi’s bank partner. The court found that on the factual record before it that the DFPI had not shown a reasonable probability of prevailing on the merits of its claim.

In response to a petition filed last week by a number of consumer advocacy groups, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB or Bureau) announced that it will be seeking public input on a possible rule that would curtail mandatory pre-dispute arbitration provisions.

On August 1, Maryland’s Office of Financial Regulation (OFR) issued guidance to “provide clarity on how [the OFR] views Earned Wage Access [EWA] products and to describe the requirements entities offering these products must adhere to.” Unfortunately, the guidance largely fails to deliver the promised clarity.

On June 6, Nebraska Governor Jim Pillen signed into law Legislative Bill 92, which, among many other subjects, amends the Nebraska Installment Loan Act (the NILA). Previously, a license was required for a lender seeking to take advantage of the usury authority provided by the NILA and also for any person that holds or acquires any rights of ownership, servicing, or other forms of participation in a loan under the NILA. Legislative Bill 92 expands the scope of the licensing requirement to “any person that is not a financial institution who, at or after the time a [covered] loan is made by a financial institution, markets, owns in whole or in part, holds, acquires, services, or otherwise participates in such loan.” “Financial institution” is broadly defined to include all federally insured depository institutions. And the licensing requirement, by its terms, applies to entities providing limited services and/or purchasing limited interests (not just the predominant economic interest) in loans by financial institutions of $25,000 or less, with rates exceeding the Nebraska general usury limit.

On June 26, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed the Florida Commercial Financing Disclosure Law (FCFDL). As discussed here, the FCFDL mandates that covered commercial financing companies provide consumer-like disclosures for certain commercial financing transactions. The law also defines and prohibits specific acts by brokers of those transactions, including the collection of advance fees.

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As discussed here, in April 2023, Colorado introduced HB 1229 that proposed to limit certain charges on consumer loans and simultaneously opt Colorado out of sections 521-523 of the Depository Institutions Deregulation and Monetary Control Act (DIDMCA). Sections 521-523 of DIDMCA empower state banks, insured state and federal savings associations and state credit unions to charge the interest allowed by the state where they are located, regardless of where the borrower is located and regardless of conflicting state law (i.e., “export” their home state’s interest-rate authority). However, section 525 of DIDMCA gives states the authority to opt out of sections 521-523. Indeed, Colorado initially opted out of DIDMCA when it was enacted, but later repealed its opt-out. This week HB 1229 was signed into law by Governor Jared Polis joining Colorado with Iowa and Puerto Rico as the only jurisdictions currently opting out.

On May 18, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz signed into law the Commerce Omnibus Bill, which, among other things, amends Minnesota Statute §§ 47.60 and 47.601 to cap the annual percentage rates (APR) on consumer small loans and consumer short-term loans at a 50% all-in APR, and expressly provides for predominant economic interest and totality