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Committee Considers Tougher Regulations Of Pawn Shops

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By Peter Granitz

A D.C. Council Committee will hear testimony on a bill today that would further regulate pawn shops, not everyone would welcome the change.

Council Member Muriel Bowser introduced emergency legislation in April to stop a pawn shop from opening in her Ward Four.

Now the committee on consumer affairs, which she chairs, is set to consider permanent laws that would cap interest rates at pawn shops at 24 percent. The bill would also notify Advisory Neighborhood Commissions when a pawn shop applies for a license to open.

"As a money lender, because that's primarily what a pawn broker is, it should be regulated by the same agency that regulates other money lenders," says Bowser.

In D.C., that's the Department of Insurance, Securities and Banking.

Pawn broker Rufat Khankishiyve says he doesn't understand why the city wants to deter businesses that he says helps public safety. After all, he works with the police to track stolen merchandise.

"We ask for ID, and put all the information in the computer. We also take all the information about the merchandise, model number and serial number. At the end of the day we do a report for the police," says Khankishiyve.

Still. it's unclear how sweeping the changes could be: Bowser says only eight pawn shops remain in the District.

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