Sandy Theis, COHHIO referendum spokeswoman, said to qualify for the ballot in November, lenders need 241,365 registered voters to sign petitions.
"Before the official signature gathering can begin, however, Ohio's attorney general must determine that a summary of the new law used on referendum petitions is fair and truthful," Theis said. "Attorney General Nancy Hardin Rogers took the highly unusual step of rejecting the lenders' first two summaries used to try and repeal the entire package of reforms, saying neither was fair and truthful. She (Rogers) reluctantly accepted a summary used on a second referendum petition designed to repeal the portion of the law that bans lenders from charging customers 391-percent annual interest."
Theis said despite what she said was the AG's clear reasons for rejecting the first two summaries, payday lending spokeswoman Kim Norris told a newspaper Rogers rejected one summary because it was too short and the other because it was too long.
Norris, who is a spokeswoman for the Reject House Bill 545 Committee, made the statement Friday, to the Daily Times.
She told the Times, "It felt like the three little bears, but she did accept our third proposal."
Theis said Norris' Times article caused the debut of (Un) Truth IN Lending - what she terms, "a new truth squad, designed to correct the lenders' false or misleading information."
Gov. Ted Strickland signed the bill limiting the interest to 28 percent last week, and that brought reaction from payday lenders.
Another organization also is looking to stop the payday lenders' attempts to pass their referendum.
"The payday lenders are living their own fairy tale," said Bill Faith, executive director of Ohio Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio. "They want us to believe that 391 percent annual interest is good for consumers, and they want us to believe that the attorney general rejected their summaries because of their length. She rejected them because they were not fair and truthful."
Yolanda Walker, at the corporate headquarters for Cashland, which has two stores in Scioto County - Portsmouth and Wheelersburg - said the 391 percent figure is somewhat misleading.
"Because we are a lending institution, we have to disclose our interest in annual percentage rates - which would be 391 percent - but we aren't permitted to make one-year loans. So it is simply $15 for borrowing $100," Walker said. "Loans are for a week or two weeks, depending on how you are paid. For example, if you are paid weekly, your loan is due on your weekly pay date."
In summary rejection 1, Rogers said while the summary did mention the new law regulates the terms and conditions of payday loans, it also "should state that the interest rates for such loans are capped at 28 percent. Otherwise, the most fundamental change that HB 545 brought about is not stated for the potential petition-signer."
While Cashland says it will watch the progress of the referendum before making any decisions, some payday lenders say HB 545 will cause layoffs and closings.