Thursday, November 17, 2011

Community banks push bill that would loosen regulations

Saying smaller banks have been disproportionately burdened by ever-increasing regulations, the Independent Community Bankers of America is pushing a bill that would loosen some of them.

Known as the Communities First Act in the U.S. House, its advocates say it will free up small banks to do more local lending. It's sponsored by U.S. Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer, R-Missouri, and has 53 cosponsors, including Republicans Renee Ellmers, Walter Jones, and Democrats Mike McIntyre and Heath Shuler in North Carolina.

"Rather than a top-down program, the Communities First Act was crafted from the bottom up with input from community bankers who know what will work on Main Street,” ICBA president Sal Marranca told a House subcommittee. "CFA provides appropriate tiering of regulation and relief for smaller, low-risk institutions so they can better serve their communities.”

Among other provisions, the bill would shorten the "call report" banks file every quarter detailing their financial performance, keep community banks from having to hold money in escrow for mortgages on their books and cut the requirement to issue privacy notices every year even if no change has been made.

The Credit Union National Association also supports the bill.