The Virginian-Pilot Editorial

If predatory lenders had a trade publication – say, “Usury Today” – they’d undoubtedly rank Virginia near the top in annual roundups of the best places in the nation to do business.

Although dozens of states have severely restricted the activities of storefront loan sharks in recent years, the Old Dominion remains ever hospitable.

Triple-digit interest rates – scorned by the Pentagon, consumer advocacy groups and most state legislatures – are still welcome here.

Last year, 220 percent was the average annual interest rate in Virginia for folks who borrowed money using the titles to their automobiles as collateral. For borrowers who used paychecks as collateral, the average annual interest rate was 282 percent.

Repeated efforts to cap interest rates at a more modest 36 percent have failed in the General Assembly, thanks in no small part to $1.4 million in donations to lawmakers by the industry between 2007 and 2011 and tens of thousands of dollars in contributions ahead of a vote this year.

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