Axios Detroit

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✅ It's Monday.

  • We're here.
  • So buckle up for some news.

🌨️ Today's weather: Mostly cloudy and windy, with a chance of snow showers. High near 41.

ğŸŽ‚ Happy birthday to our Axios Detroit member Sherle Abramson-Bluhm!

Today's newsletter is 877 words — a 3.5-minute read. Edited by Joe Guillen and copy edited by Cindy Orosco-Wright.

1 big thing: Cracking down on payday loans

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Payday lenders say they could be forced out of Michigan if new legislation to cap interest rates at 36% becomes law.

Why it matters: Customers at payday loan stores in predominantly Black and low-income areas can get trapped in a cycle of never-ending debt, bill supporters say.

  • A huge market exists for small-dollar loan stores among people with bad credit and those struggling to afford rent, groceries and utilities.

Driving the news: Democrats in the Michigan Senate approved the 36% cap on payday lending interest rates last week, with support from four Republicans. The bill still needs House approval before it could be sent to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's desk.

Catch up quick: During Senate floor speeches last Thursday, Sen. Sarah Anthony (D-Lansing) pushed for a stricter cap, arguing 36% was still too high, while Republicans offered to work with the payday lending industry to ensure their survival in Michigan.

State of play: Payday lenders in Michigan charge service fees and interest rates based on the amount borrowed and the repayment period.

  • Under current laws, a borrower loaned $100 for two weeks would be paying $115, coming out to a 391% APR, per the attorney general's office.

Context: Michigan ranks in the top 10 for loans taken out on the same day a previous loan was repaid, according to data cited from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau during committee testimony.

  • In Michigan, 70% of customers take out another loan when they pay off a loan.
  • It's estimated that 12 million Americans use payday loans each year, according to the bureau.
The Woodward Check Cashiers store on the corner of Peterboro in Detroit.
The Woodward Check Cashiers store on the corner at Peterboro. Photo: Samuel Robinson/Axios

The other side: A 36% cap would slash payday lenders' revenue by 90%, John Rabenold, chair of the Regulated Lenders Association of Michigan, told lawmakers at a Senate committee hearing this month.

  • "The end result would be we would be unable to offer product as a for-profit business," he said.

The bottom line: With a split 54-54 chamber, House Democrats will need Republican support to send the bills to the governor, at least until special elections are held next month.

Read the full story

2. New bus station honors late driver

Desha Hargrove, center, gets emotional at last week's dedication ceremony. Photos: Joe Guillen/Axios

A new transit center near Woodward and 8 Mile will be named after Jason Hargrove, the DDOT bus driver whose death four years ago drew national attention to the dangers essential workers faced during the pandemic.

The big picture: The transit center — slated to open May 11 — is part of a $31 million redevelopment of the old State Fairgrounds site near the new Amazon fulfillment center.

Flashback: Hargrove posted a video to Facebook in March 2020, describing public workers' plight on the front lines and complaining about a rider who was coughing without covering her face.

What they're saying: "To have my big guy, my husband, named on a building — my heart is overjoyed," Desha Hargrove, Jason's wife, said at Friday's dedication ceremony.

  • "He was one of ours. He was one of yours."

The intrigue: Mayor Mike Duggan credited Hargrove's viral video with saving bus drivers' lives in other cities.

Between the lines: The transit center at the fairgrounds' renovated Dairy Cattle Barn features 11 bays for DDOT and SMART buses, an indoor lobby, public restrooms and a separate lounge and restroom area for drivers.

The bottom line: The new transit center will be a much-needed upgrade for riders at one of the city's busiest intersections.

The Jason Hargrove Transit Center is scheduled to open in May.
The Jason Hargrove Transit Center is scheduled to open in May.

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3. The Grapevine: You heard it here

Illustration: Lindsey Bailey/Axios

💰 Former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick's tax refunds and unclaimed property are being targeted by federal officials to satisfy the remaining $164,434 in restitution he owes to taxpayers. (Detroit News)

🛣️ A lid over I-75 between Cass Avenue and Brush Street will be studied as part of a $2 million grant under the federal government's Reconnecting Communities and Neighborhoods program. (Free Press)

🏀 Michigan fired basketball coach Juwan Howard on Friday after five seasons. (Free Press)

🌿 The Detroit cannabis dispensary owned by former NBA player Al Harrington, Viola, is closing indefinitely due to declining profit margins and problems with its insurance provider. (Free Press)

4. Exercising for longevity

Illustration: Natalie Peeples/Axios

The heydays of HIIT (high-intensity interval training) and CrossFit are over. Low-impact workouts — particularly Pilates — are all the rage for American adults.

Why it matters: A growing number of exercisers are opting for movements that advance their day-to-day functioning and better protect them from injury, Axios' Carly Mallenbaum reports.

By the numbers: In Metro Detroit, Pilates ClassPass bookings increased 131.51% in 2023, compared with 2022, according to data shared with Axios.

The big picture: The surge in interest in workouts like Pilates has to do with a workout mindset shift.

  • Almost 29% of consumers say they exercise for a long and healthy life, compared with 20% the year before, according to survey data from exercise platform Mindbody.

What we're watching: "Functional fitness" is the workout buzzword of the moment.

5. 😮‍💨 Sparty makes the NCAA Tournament

Michigan State's Malik Hall dunks against Minnesota during last week's Big Ten tournament. Photo: David Berding/Getty Images

Michigan State made its 26th straight NCAA Tournament yesterday, surviving some tense moments when it looked like the Spartans might miss out on March Madness.

Oakland University, the other local team to make the tournament, got a No. 14 seed and will play third-seeded Kentucky on Thursday in Pittsburgh.

Our picks:

ğŸŽ¥ Joe was disappointed by "American Fiction." The performances were decent but the storytelling was rushed and the ending was weak.

📆 Annalise is off.

ğŸŽ§ Sam is listening to the new Bktherula.