SALT LAKE CITY (1/15/08)--Credit unions in Utah are considering a “financial freedom” ballot initiative that would ease state legislature-imposed lending restrictions on state-chartered credit unions. The initiative also would contain several consumer-friendly provisions. After years of battling with a bank-dominated state legislature, the credit union industry is contemplating taking its case right to the people with the initiative (The Salt Lake Tribune Jan. 12). To get a law changed, you can either get the legislature to do it or have the people do it, Scott Simpson, president of the Utah League of Credit Unions, said. The proposed initiative also would put caps on returned-check fees, ATM surcharges, and payday loan companies’ interest rates. It also would prohibit financial institutions from refusing to honor gift cards not used within a year of purchase, he added. By placing these consumer-friendly provisions in the ballot initiative, the voters would be reminded that the legislators rejected these provisions in the first place, Simpson told the newspaper. “We are looking for any opportunity to roll back the punitive measure of our state charter,” Simpson told News Now. “We are optimistic that the state legislature will help with that. But at the end of the day, if it doesn’t help, the only other option is the people.” Simpson said the ballot initiative is just “speculative at this point,” and no timetable has been set to introduce it.