There is so much to feel pained about in the controversy surrounding State Representative Carlos Henriquez. If the subjects of domestic violence or racial injustice concern you, it is a time to feel despondent.
As many people have already observed, the decision of the House to expel Representative Henriquez will have the unfortunate consequence of depriving the residents of his district of any representation in the Legislature until a special election is held.
One step the House could take to help his constituents is to pass one of the bills that he worked on, House 3778, which would set a cap on the amount of money that check cashing services can charge their customers.
Many of the state’s poorer residents don’t use banks for various reasons and instead have their payroll and other checks cashed by one of the many businesses in their neighborhood providing that service. The problem is how much it costs to get a check cashed at one of these places. The state’s Division of Banks says that people using check cashing services pay as much as $1400 each year to have their payroll checks cashed and to have money orders written.
The bill that Representative Henriquez, along with other legislators, have been working on would set some limits on how much check cashing services could charge. The amounts would vary depending on the risk the service was undertaking in cashing the check: government checks would have a lower cap than personal checks. The effect of the bill would make it just a little less expensive to be poor.
The Legislature’s Joint Committee on Consumer Protection gave the bill a favorable report in November, and since then it has been on the House Calendar, pretty much ready for takeoff.
Bringing it up in the House for passage could help a lot of people, some of them constituents of Representative Henriquez.
(For more information about the bill and its importance, check out its advocates’ website, here.)