The “Blue Wave” hit Nevada last November as well, resulting in the election of Democrats to serve as Governor and Attorney General.  More aggressive enforcement and increased legislative activity are expected.  In this week’s podcast, we discuss the new AG’s likely enforcement priorities, the federal and state law enforcement tools available to him, and state legislation of interest to financial institutions that is likely to be considered in the next session.

To listen to the podcast, click here.

Earlier this month, we released a podcast in which we discussed our expectations for Colorado’s newly-elected Democratic Attorney General.  That podcast is available here.

 

Having declared the CFPB eviscerated by President Trump, Colorado’s newly elected Democratic Attorney General, Phil Weiser, is expected to take an active approach to consumer protection.  In this week’s podcast, Ballard Spahr Partner Matt Morr, based in the firm’s Denver office, discusses Mr. Weiser’s background, key appointees, and likely areas of focus.

To listen to the podcast, click here.

 

 

This afternoon, Pew Charitable Trusts will host an event in Washington, D.C. focusing on Ohio’s Fairness in Lending Act.  Enacted in July 2018, the Act places new limitations on payday loans including an interest rate cap, a limit on the total cost of a loan, and other structural restrictions.  The Act is viewed as a significant victory for consumer advocates with the potential to be followed through legislation in other states or through ballot initiatives.  (Last week, Colorado voters passed a ballot initiative that places a 36 percent APR cap on payday loans.)

At the event, Ohio legislators from both sides of the aisle, business leaders, advocates, and researchers will discuss the Act.  According to Pew’s description of the event, the topics will include a discussion of strategies “to advance meaningful reform in other states with payday loans.”

 

 

By an overwhelming vote (approximately 1,4270,000 million to 433,000), Colorado voters passed Proposition 111, a ballot initiative that places a 36 percent APR cap on payday loans.  The question presented to voters was:

Shall there be an amendment to the Colorado Revised Statutes concerning limitations on payday lenders, and, in connection therewith, reducing allowable charges on payday loans to an annual percentage rate of no more than thirty-six percent?

As described on the Colorado Secretary of State’s website, Proposition 111 “would restrict the charges on payday loans to a yearly rate of 36 percent and would eliminate all other finance charges and fees associated with payday lending.”

Colorado’s Attorney General has indicated that at least half of all retail lenders closed their doors following the enactment of legislation in 2010 that restricted payday loan fees to an average APR of about 120%.  We suspect that Proposition 111 will have a similar effect, with only the most efficient operators remaining that can rely on sheer volume, sophisticated underwriting, and other product structures available under the Colorado Consumer Credit Code.

According to American Banker, the passage of Proposition 111 makes Colorado the fifth state to impose rate caps on payday loans through a voter referendum.  The other states to have done so are South Dakota, Ohio, Arizona, and Montana.

 

 

In two closely-watched enforcement actions pending in Colorado state court, the Administrator of the Uniform Consumer Credit Code for the State of Colorado is employing the “true lender” theory and the Second Circuit’s decision in Madden v. Midland Funding, LLC to challenge two bank-model lending programs.  Specifically, the Administrator asserts that the origination of the loans by state-chartered banks should be disregarded under the “predominant economic interest” test employed by some district courts in true lender cases, and that the banks’ power to export interest rates under federal law does not follow loans they assign to their program partners.  For these reasons, the Administrator contends that the loans are subject to Colorado usury laws despite the fact that state interest rate limits on state bank loans are preempted by Section 27 of the Federal Deposit Insurance Act (FDIA).

Although these cases were filed in January 2017, little has happened on the merits to date.  The cases were removed to federal court by the program sponsors and remanded a year later.  The banks involved in the programs filed separate declaratory relief actions in federal court, but those cases were dismissed without prejudice on abstention grounds.  The banks then filed motions to intervene in the state court actions, and the program sponsors moved to dismiss the state court cases.  The motions to dismiss argue that the usury claims are preempted by the FDIA, that Madden was wrongly decided and should not be followed, and that the banks are the “true lenders” as a matter of federal law, and also under state law if it applies.

On June 22, 2018, the state court heard oral argument on the motions to dismiss and to intervene in both cases.  The Court allowed argument for nearly two hours, and provided no clear indication on how it would rule before taking the motions under submission.  We will continue to follow the cases closely and report on additional developments.

 

 

 

 

Colorado has enacted groundbreaking privacy and cybersecurity legislation that will require covered entities to implement and maintain reasonable security procedures, dispose of documents containing confidential information properly, ensure that confidential information is protected when transferred to third parties, and notify affected individuals of data breaches in the shortest time frame in the country.

The new law—which becomes effective on September 1, 2018—was spearheaded by the Colorado Attorney General’s office, which is charged with enforcing its requirements.  As a result of the legislation, covered entities should consider implementing written information security programs, third party vendor management controls, and incident response plans to best position themselves against potential enforcement actions and civil litigation in the future.

On Monday, June 4, 2018, at 12 PM PT/1 PM MT/3 PM ET, Ballard Spahr attorneys will hold a webinar to provide an in-depth analysis of the new law and to discuss what covered entities must do to ensure compliance.  Click here to register.

For a discussion of the new law’s most notable provisions, see our legal alert.

 

The Administrator of the Uniform Consumer Credit Code for the State of Colorado, Julie Ann Meade, has filed motions to dismiss the complaints filed in federal court by two state-chartered banks seeking to permanently enjoin enforcement actions brought by the Administrator against the banks’ nonbank partners.  According to the complaints, these nonbank partners market and service loans originated by the banks, and the banks sometimes sell these loans to their partners.

In the enforcement actions, the Administrator takes the position that the banks are not the “true lender” of the loans, and that, pursuant to the Second Circuit’s decision in Madden v. Midland Funding, LLC, the banks could not validly assign their ability to export interest rates under federal law.  Accordingly, the enforcement actions assert that the loans sold to the banks’ partners are subject to Colorado usury laws despite the fact that state interest rate limits on state bank loans are preempted by Section 27 of the Federal Deposit Insurance Act.  The banks’ complaints allege that the Administrator’s enforcement actions disregard two fundamental principles of banking law—the banks’ right to “export” their respective home state’s interest rates to borrowers in other states under Section 27, and the “valid-when-made” rule.

In her motions to dismiss, the Administrator makes the following arguments:

  • Under the “well-pleaded complaint rule,” the court has no subject matter jurisdiction over the complaints because they seek to assert a federal preemption defense to the enforcement actions and such a defense does not, by itself, give rise to a federal question.  The Administrator argues that although the U.S. Supreme Court has held that state usury claims against a national bank are completely preempted notwithstanding the well-pleaded complaint rule, complete preemption does not apply to state usury claims against state-chartered banks.
  • The banks lack standing because the enforcement actions are only directed against the non-bank partners and any injury alleged by the banks, such as the actions’ impact on the secondary investor market or loss of revenue, is too attenuated.
  • The complaints fail to state a claim under Rule 12(b)(6) because under relevant federal banking laws and case law (such as Madden), only banks have interest exportation rights and such rights do not preempt state law as applied to non-banks.  In addition, the U.S. Supreme Court cases cited by the banks to support their “valid-when-made” argument are not relevant precedent because they addressed whether promissory notes created in non-usurious loans become unenforceable when used as collateral or discounted in subsequent usurious transactions.  (According to the Administrator, the OCC, in arguing in its amicus brief filed with the Supreme Court in Madden that the “valid-when-made” rule applies to assignees of national bank loans, relied upon a similar “misunderstanding of the holding” in such cases.)
  • The non-banks removed the enforcement actions to federal court and the Administrator has filed remand motions.  Assuming the remand motions are granted, the court should abstain from hearing the complaints under the Younger doctrine because there would be a state proceeding that provides an adequate forum for the banks’ federal claims and the state proceeding involves important state interests.  Alternatively, the court should decline to exercise its jurisdiction under the Declaratory Judgments Act because a declaration is not needed to resolve the legal issues raised in the case as they will necessarily be decided in the enforcement action.

We will continue to follow the banks’ lawsuits and the Administrator’s enforcement actions.

Two state-chartered banks recently filed complaints for declaratory judgment and injunctive relief against the Administrator of the Uniform Consumer Credit Code for the State of Colorado, Julie Ann Meade.  The complaints were filed in Colorado federal court and seek to permanently enjoin enforcement actions brought by Meade against the banks’ non-bank partners who, according to the complaints, market and service loans originated by the two banks and which the banks sometimes sells to their partners.

In her enforcement actions, Meade took the position that the two banks are not the “true lenders” of the loans, and that, pursuant to the Second Circuit’s decision in Madden v. Midland Funding, LLC, the banks could not validly assign their ability to export interest rates as state banks under federal law.  Accordingly, the enforcement actions assert that the loans sold to the banks’ partners are subject to Colorado usury law despite the fact that state interest rate limits on state bank loans are preempted by Section 27 of the Federal Deposit Insurance Act (Section 27).

In their complaints, the banks allege that Meade’s enforcement actions disregard their right under Section 27 to export their respective home state’s interest rates to borrowers in other states and the “valid-when-made” doctrine which provides that a loan that is non-usurious when made cannot later become usurious after assignment. The banks contend that the doctrine is incorporated into Section 27.  Accordingly, the banks argue that Meade’s enforcement actions against their partners for alleged violations of Colorado law are preempted by federal law.

For a fuller discussion of and links to the complaints, see our legal alert.