Jerry Kopel

It isn't often that Luke Skywalker beats Darth Vader, but it happened in the state senate on Tuesday.

Sen. Bill (Luke) Thiebaut, D-Pueblo, led the opposition to SB 160 by Sen. Jim Dyer, D-Durango. SB 160 would have allowed credit companies to charge up to 45 percent interest, plus totally deregulate late fees, insufficient check fees, and cash advance fees.

Pushing the bill was a conglomerate of powerful lobbyists led by Walley (Darth) Stealey, and including Colorado Financial Services Assn. and Colorado Retail Council lobbyists.

The bill actually lost on Monday's second reading debate, but in the Senate a bill is never really dead the first time around. It was just laid over. The vote on Tuesday was a "standing" vote, and the reading clerk stopped counting after reaching the first 18 in opposition.

As I remarked in my recent Statesman column on SB 160, Nordstrom National Bank vowed to move its headquarters out of Colorado if the legislature didn't pass SB 160, so we'll have to wait and see. My guess is that the bank will still be in the same location this time next year.

And don't expect the credit industry to give up just because they lost in 1997 and 1999. They'll be back with another version either this year or in 2000.

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