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Morning headlines: Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Although the payday loan industry has come under fire for high interest rates and other business practices, supporters say the operations fill a need for people who might not have easy access to money to help pay bills and cover other expenses.
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A group of community and religious leaders is proposing a Missouri ballot measure that would effectively limit the cost of payday loans.

Wording approved for Mo. ballot measure limiting payday loans

A group of community and religious leaders is proposing a Missouri ballot measure that would effectively limit the cost of payday loans. The secretary of state's office on Tuesday approved the wording of a proposed ballot summary, allowing supporters to begin a petition drive to put the question on a statewide ballot.

The proposal would cap interest, fees and charges for payday and car title loans at 36 percent per year. Critics of payday lending often point out that the annual interest on such loans can top 400 percent.

Jim Bryan, treasurer of Missourians for Responsible Lending says capping the cost of short-term loans is a matter of right and wrong. But critics say the proposal would make it harder for some Missourians to get credit.

Abuse victim may receive millions as part of a lawsuit against Diocese of Belleville

A man sexually abused by a priest in the 1970s may now be getting more than $6.3 million as part of a lawsuit he won against a southern Illinois diocese that had resisted the payout. A court hearing is scheduled Wednesday morning in St. Clair County. That's where an attorney for James Wisniewski  is expected to get checks related to a $5 million jury award the Champaign man won in 2008 against the Diocese of Belleville.

The additional $1.33 million includes interest since that verdict. Wisniewski sued in 2002, alleging that a former priest sexually abused him dozens of times for five years at St. Theresa's Parish in Salem. The lawsuit also claimed the diocese hid the one-time priest's suspected behavior and quietly shuffled him among parishes.

Ill. horse racing getting a boost

Illinois' horse racing industry is getting an influx of cash. The (Bloomington) Pantagraph reportsthat $141 million that's been collecting in an escrow account for years was released this week to race tracks and horse owners.

The cash is at the heart of a legal case that's gone all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. It involved a 2006 law that diverted 3 percent of the earnings of the state's four biggest casinos to subsidize the horse tracks.

Tony Somone is executive director of the Illinois Harness Horsemen's Association, and he says the financial boost is going to stimulate the state's horse racing community. And Illinois Racing Board Executive Director Marc Laino says purses could start going up quickly.