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July 31, 2013

Regulatory Relief Bills Gain Momentum in Congress

Community bankers’ protests about the burden and reach of regulation may finally be getting through to members of Congress.

The list of bipartisan bills seeking to ease federal rules — on everything from privacy notices to escrow requirements — for small institutions keeps growing, offering the first real chance of passing legislation in seven years.

“‘If you speak to members they will tell you that, if there is something that can be done on a bipartisan basis, they believe it is a regulatory relief package for community banks,’ said James Ballentine, the chief lobbyist for the American Bankers Association. ‘There does not seem to be reservation around that as much as what’s going to be included in there.’

It is unclear what, if anything, will reach President Obama’s desk by yearend. But by some estimates nearly 30 pending bills attempt to ease regulatory burden, and proposals getting the most attention all have support from at least one lawmaker in each party. The latest was a bill announced last week by Sens. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., Jon Tester, D-Mont., and Mark Kirk, R-Ill., that would, among other things, lighten compliance requirements dealing with escrow accounts, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s mortgage underwriting rules.”

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