On January 20, District 24 Councilman Jason Holleman introduced two pieces of legislation that seem to contradict each other. The first was Ordinance BL2015-1009. This ordinance will make it illegal for Cash Advance, Check Cashing, and Title Loan establishments to remain open 24 hours. The second Ordinance, BL2015-1010, is designed to allow certain Cash Advance, Check Cashing, and Title Loan Establishments that were otherwise denied permits or zoning certificates to open.
Many feel that the two ordinances have been introduced to hurt one check cashing company while helping another.
Holleman’s reasoning for introducing legislation to limit 24 hour check cashing is that check cashing “establishments are particularly dangerous and detrimental to the community when they are providing services in the middle of the night when those services should not be needed”. The ordinance goes on to state, “crime statistics increase during the middle of the night”.
The only check cashing company that is open 24 hours is Advance Financial 24/7, a local company that has been given numerous awards for business practices, community involvement, and workplace satisfaction.
According to the Nashville Convention and Visitors Corporation “Having access to a financial services company that is open during overnight hours is extremely beneficial to Nashville’s hospitality industry,” and the bill would have consequences that “would adversely affect thousands of hard-working Nashville citizens”.
Contrary to Holleman’s statements, TBI reports show that the crime rate between 12:00 am and 6:00 am is much lower than any other time. Furthermore, none of the crimes that did happen in late night/early morning hours occurred at an Advance Financial 24/7 store. When asked, Holleman admitted that he has no crime statistics to back up his claim.
In a letter to the Metro Council, the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce states that it is “…ominous when legislation appears to be targeting one specific company” calling Holleman’s ordinance excessive and unnecessary.
If Holleman’s ordinance is not about fighting crime, then what is it about?
Benefitting from the second ordinance Holleman is introducing is one of Advance Financial’s competitors, an out of state company, Community Choice. Community Choice is one of the biggest alternative financial services businesses in the country, operating under several loan and check cashing business names including Buckeye Check Cashing of Tennessee. Buckeye Check Cashing of Tennessee is registered as a foreign limited liability company and is authorized to transact business in Tennessee under assumed names “easymoney” and “Checksmart”.
Holleman’s ordinance BL2015-1010 “the Easy Money bill” will partially undue a bill passed by the Metro Council to prevent the clustering of loan stores. The Easy Money bill will allow Buckeye Check Cashing of Tennessee to open further stores that otherwise would not be allowed.
Lobbyists for Buckeye Check Cashing of Tennessee (who could not be reached for comment) are rumored to be the authors of Holleman’s “Easy Money” bill. Councilman Holleman has denied several times that he is pushing the ordinance at the request of the lobbyists.
Holleman, who says that he is opposed to “Alternative Financial Services”, has two ordinances, introduced on the same day that appear to contradict one another. One ordinance calls check cashing and title loan businesses detrimental to the local community so they should not be able to operate 24 hours. The other makes allowances for more of them to open because of “being negatively impacted and not be able to legally operate.”
When asked about the two bills, Bo Mitchell, Councilman for District 35 said that he is unfamiliar with the Easy Money bill, but as to the second he said, “if he [Holleman] can show that there is crime, then he may have an argument, but coming up with these hours for no reason-I have a problem with that.” Councilman Mitchell went on to say that, “I’m not a fan by any means of the industry, but when someone is targeting a company and has no justification for doing it, then I have a problem with that.”
Second reading of the bill will be tonight at 6:00 p.m. in the David Scobey Council Chamber in the Historic Metro Courthouse, One Public Square in downtown Nashville. Parking is available in the garage under the courthouse. Parking after 6:00 is free and tickets obtained before that time can be validated.