Lawmakers to consider rent-to-own budget plan

Plan would exempt businesses from consumer protection laws
Lawmakers to consider rent-to-own budget plan

The Legislature’s finance committee is set to decide whether to exempt rent-to-own stores from Wisconsin’s consumer protection laws.

Rent-to-own businesses offer customers a chance to rent items without a credit check. Customers can exit and rejoin their contracts with an option to buy the items when they fulfill the terms. Critics contend the businesses prey on the poor and charge exorbitant interest rates. Industry advocates maintain the contracts aren’t credit transactions and shouldn’t fall under the state’s consumer protection laws.

Gov. Scott Walker’s budget would create a new section of state law governing the industry. The new statutes wouldn’t require the businesses to disclose interest rates.

The finance committee is expected to review Walker’s proposal Thursday. The panel could approve the plan as is, modify it or delete it.