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Editorial condems the politics surrounding payday predators

Posted by Stephen on July 24, 2007

Virginian Pilot Editorial

MORE THAN 950 businesses and organizations shelled out $16.1 million last year to persuade the Virginia General Assembly to their point of view. From their perspective, at least, it was money well spent.

Corporations invested far more than citizen or local government groups, and many – particularly the big spenders – get to show something for their effort.

Not for nothing did Forbes.com recently name Virginia the best state in the nation for doing business. While the Old Dominion performed well across the board in that survey, it scored particularly high in “regulatory environment,” a category closely linked to legislative policy and the political winds.

Dominion Resources and its subsidiary, Virginia Power, mounted the state’s most expensive 12-month lobbying effort. It shelled out close to $1 million to deploy 17 lobbyists and came away with a new regulatory plan that will be the envy of many other utilities.

With deregulation a bust, the legislature elected not to revert to the old regulatory system, in which the State Corporation Commission set rates based on the cost of providing service. Instead, the Assembly approved a far more prescriptive set-up. Dominion received generous incentives, necessary – the company said – to grease the construction of capital-intensive nuclear plants.

Time will tell whether the plan benefits consumers, but there’s no doubt that it benefits the utility.

Dominion wasn’t the only powerful lobbying group to leave Richmond smiling. A coalition of payday lenders spent almost $650,000 – the second largest amount of any group – fighting efforts to dismantle the predatory industry. In the end, despite opposition from a range of religious and consumer groups, the lenders succeeded in maintaining the status quo.

The Northern Virginia Technology Council (No. 3 in spending), a coalition of more than 1,100 companies, successfully pushed for a regional authority empowered to raise taxes for transportation. Philip Morris USA Inc. (No. 5) fought back a measure banning smoking in restaurants. 

And so on. 

The only one of the Top 10 to suffer a major defeat was Colonial Downs, which spent about $214,600 on a failed effort to win approval for a new electronic horse racing game. 

More than a decade ago, former Gov. George Allen campaigned on the slogan: ” Virginia is Open for Business.”

Governors and legislatures may come and go. But real power rarely shifts in Virginia . Consumers had best hope that their interests dovetail with those of Big Business, because most years, that’s who is in charge.

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One Response to “Editorial condems the politics surrounding payday predators”

  1. Yank Phil said

    TAG U R IT
    http://yankeephilip.blogspot.com/2007/07/tag-your-it.html

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