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COFFEE TEA SPICES Old favorites, foo in a comfy-size Neighborhood Store! ANDERSON & COMPANY TWO .JEFFERSON SQUARE AUSTIN, TEXAS 78731 512-453-1533 introduce a bill that would put an end to public hearings for certain plants. The punsters from Texans For Public Justice recently released a fact sheet criticizing the “ready mix of lobby and campaign dollars” behind the bill. They point out that among the lobbyists on the receiving end of the industry’s cash pour are former state Rep. Mark Stiles \(whose own concrete company profited handsomely during the prison-building boom director Dan Pearson. FRIENDS OF THE URSURERS SB 272 HB 1366 HB 2846 Carona’s SB 272 would allow lenders to charge up to 30 percent interest on loans not secured by property. According to Carona’s office, Texas needs such a law because currently, lenders affiliated with out-of-state banks can, in some cases, charge whatever rate they please. Thus the bill holds them to a “mere” 30 percent \(which somehow doesn’t seem like such the contributors to Carona’s coffers are both big banks, like Bank of America and Citigroup, and strip-mall lenders like Cash America. Lately, these two classes of entities have been merging into one: last November, for instance, Citibank bought the Irving-based company Associates First Capital, now under investigation by the Federal Trade Commission for predatory lending practices. \(Carona, incidentally, took $2,000 With H B 1366, Solomons codifies into law certain rules on payday loans established by the state’s Consumer Credit Commission, in terms none too favorable to consumers. Lenders could charge up to $15 per $100 on these quickie loans, and add another $15 if the loan is renewed, with a maximum of three renewals. Add it all up, and you’ve got guys paying $60 in fees per $100 loaned to them. Craddick’s HB 2846 is not a lending bill, but it would likewise help consumers who want to part with their money more quickly. The bill exempts securities agents from having to register as such under the state’s Investment Company Act, provided they have fewer than 15 clients. Apparently as long as you’re a small-time scam artist, the state is not too worried about it. Best of fhe Old & New! All fhe latest in Organic & Nafural foods and Green, continued from page 9 Louisiana environmental politics to wrestle to its knees. 25 The next time I see Laura, we’re back in Austin, the day after the South by Southwest Film Festival. The road trip has stripped off a layer of her youth, but it’s also energized her. It’s as if she had to go back to Louisiana to understand that she makes movies to bring people together. She also makes movies to connect with people who trust her, whom she can trust. After a screening at the University of New Orleans, a young woman showed Dunn lesions on her neck and told her that doctors regularly cut lesions from her back and stomach. The student lived at the Agriculture Street landfill project, a HUD and City of New Orleans-subsidized housing project for first-time home-buyers, where in 1992 the EPA found elevated levels of 150 toxic chemicals, including arsenic, mercury, and lead, and began a clean-up in 1998. Dunn filmed the site but wasn’t able to screen therethe group she filmed has since disbanded, broken and disillusioned. “Then I came back, boom, I’m at South by Southwest, all these companies are giving me their cards, awards ceremoniesall this stuff seems meaningless,” she says. After the festival’s award ceremony last night, she felt especially lost.”I felt like I couldn’t reconcile that juxtaposition,” she says. “I’ve gone from one extreme to the next, and I’m in the middle, and I felt so unfocused.” When she woke up this morning, her sense of her activist self was stronger than it had ever been, so she wants to bring Green to the 14 sites in Texas where Title Xl complaints have been made to the EPA. Her company, Two Birds Film, has received grants and donations to hire staff through the summer. The website has generated sales; they sold 50 videos on the tour and have 50 back-ordered, and herYale venture, Subtext, is bringing in some money.The Green engine, though small, is moving forward, if only by the force of Laura Dunn’s will. “I thought I was going to go to Louisiana and do the screening and go on with my life,” Laura Dunn says. “I talked about touring other communities, but it was just so draining, because I’d lost so much hope in humanity. But I got so much hope from all these activists.They’re not giving up. Who am I to give up?” Michael Erard is an Austin writer who can be reached at [email protected] . 4/13/01 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 13