Spring is in the air! I love this time of year because I know good things are just around the corner. Long days of warm sunshine, trees blossoming, green grass, and kids playing outside. I had a similar feeling of optimism in early March while attending the ICBA National Convention in Orlando with nearly 3,000 members of the independent community banking industry. It was a very impressive and uplifting event and North Dakota was well represented with nearly 50 bankers attending. Despite the current regulatory and policy burdens that have been unduly placed on community bankers, I could sense a passion and optimism for the future of our industry.
At the federal level, there's been some progress made and hope for continued momentum in this Congress. We can actively participate in this movement at the upcoming ICBA Washington Policy Summit. Community bankers from across the country will assemble in Washington April 28 -30 to further articulate the need for regulatory relief. I urge you to participate in this event which is appropriately themed " Stand up. Step up. Speak up." For more information, visit icba.org/wps15/.
At home, the North Dakota Legislative Session is beginning to wind down. The session has been generally successful for ICBND. For example, through introduction of HB 1220, ICBND was successful in producing positive change and clarity to the "good funds" law. The bill passed both chambers and was signed into law by Governor Dalrymple on March 12. In addition, we helped kill a number of bills that were bad for independent community banking.
Most of the hearings for policy-related issues are complete and the focus is now on appropriations issues. Based on the most recent revenue forecast for the 2015-2017 biennium, the outlook for state tax collections is nowhere near the December forecast which provided the basis for the governor's budget proposal. Scuttle around the capitol is that legislators will try to adjourn early and save some days from the 80 day maximum. It's been a scary slide for most ag and energy commodities this past year, but it was quite a run up to that point! Staying with the optimism theme, sometimes we need to step back and realize how blessed we are with fertile soil and abundant natural resources in our state.
Until next time,