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Sharks attacked!



Florida's car-title loan companies can charge 264 percent interest now, but proposed legislation in Tallahassee would ban the practive entirely - or at least reduce the interest to less than 30 percent. On Jan. 9, the Florida Vehicle Loan Task Force, a legislature-empaneled group looking into the title loan business, voted 4-3 to recommend that law-makers repeal the 1993 statute allowing the companies to do business in Florida. Advocates for the poor and legal aid lawyers say the businesses victimize low-income folks, and a class action lawsuit is in the works ("You're not a loan, sharks," Nov. 21).;;The Florida house Bill, sponsored by Ralph livingston (R-Fort Meyers), is paired with an identical Senate version by Sen. Jack Latvala (R-Palm Harbor) that would ban the practice. Another Senate bill, by Charles Wiliams (D-Live Oak), would sharply reduce the amount of interest that could be charged and put car title lenders under the supervision of the state department of banking. ;;The title loan industry dominated the task force hearings so their opponents were surprised by the recommendation and legislation. Should be an interesting battle to watch in the legislature.