Rep. Sinicki Votes to Protect Consumers, Create New Framework for Rent-to-Own Stores
"I believe that this bipartisan bill will be good for Milwaukee and communities across the state."
MADISON – Today, State Representative Chris Sinicki (D-Milwaukee) voted in favor of Assembly Bill 759, the bill creating a new legal framework for rent-to-own stores in Wisconsin. The bill passed the Assembly Committee on Jobs and the Economy on a vote of 11 to 4.
“This bipartisan bill creates a new framework for the rent-to-own industry, allowing consumers to benefit from the flexibility rent-to-own offers while weeding out bad actors. This bill is especially important for Milwaukee, where the absence of rent-to-own stores has driven consumers to businesses like Get-It-Now that prey especially on low-income people,” said Rep. Sinicki.
Assembly Bill 759 creates a dedicated statute to define and regulate rent-to-own stores and their transactions. Currently, Wisconsin is one of only three states without such a statute, meaning that rent-to-own stores are nearly non-existent. These stores serve a number of distinct populations that may not otherwise have access to household items such as washers and dryers, computers, or furniture. Consumers who might use rent-to-own stores include business people in a short-term position who wish to furnish an office; military families who are frequently transferred; college students; or people who do not qualify for traditional financing.
“Many people in my district and throughout the state do not have access to traditional purchase options for household essentials. As a result, many have been forced to turn to high-risk credit sales stores like Get-It-Now. Right now in Milwaukee, these predatory businesses are exploiting low-income people every day. They trap consumers in a cycle of debt and are especially prominent in low-income neighborhoods in Milwaukee. This bill will incentivize the creation of stores with a more ethical business model and help drive these vultures out of our communities,” said Rep. Sinicki.
The legislation creates a state statute with language similar to nearly every other state in the country, distinguishing rent-to-own transactions from consumer credit sales, while ensuring transparency and protecting consumers. Because the Wisconsin Consumer Act does not adequately account for the nature of the rent-to-own business, the bill creates a new statute regulating these businesses that parallels the important protections in the Consumer Act.
“I was glad to work with the bill’s authors and committee members from both parties to craft a major amendment that adds protections for consumers. I believe that this bipartisan bill will be good for Milwaukee and communities across the state,” said Rep. Sinicki.
Assembly Bill 759 will be up for a vote on Tuesday, February 20th in the full Assembly, and will then be considered by the State Senate.
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