"Money Wallet" by 401(K) 2013 is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Submitted by Sen. Richard Martinez – Retired

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The New Mexico House of Representatives has passed a bill to put 36% rate caps on small dollar loans. Now, HB 132 moves to the Senate, where I hope my colleagues will improve the bill to ensure consumers do not lose access to an important credit option and to sustaining jobs throughout the state.

In its current form, I am concerned about how this bill will impact all New Mexicans – especially, our veterans.

Veterans across the country everyday face physical, mental, and financial health obstacles. Here in New Mexico its arguable those barriers are exacerbated by generational poverty fed by educational and economic shortcomings.

State and local governments admirably give preference to veteran and minority businesses when considering everything from licensure to government contracts. And we all see the military discounts advertised which range from dining to home loans.

Many military vets have taken advantage of the services and considerations put forth by our public and private sector, many haven’t. There is no veteran prototype as our men and women complete their service to our country and return to civilian life. Like in any other industry or demographic there are the haves and the have nots. Some veterans return to affluent neighborhoods with a myriad of traditional financial services available to them. Others return to abject poverty -some to the streets -which invariably offers little to no financial services other than non-traditional credit options.

As I’ve stated many times publicly the financial health of a society can be measured by the financial health of that society’s most disenfranchised. Unless every law-abiding citizen in New Mexico has access to some form of credit than we are not operating at peak health. Let’s not get stuck with feel good legislation which may negatively impact out veterans’ ability to access credit.

Policymakers and legislators need to further study well-intentioned legislation before codifying policies that may in fact have crippling unintended consequences for our friends and neighbors who served our nation honorably. With a few changes an alternative rate cap bill could be crafted that garners near unanimous support from both sides of the aisle.