Well, maybe we made it through another winter.  It’s supposed to be 50 degrees today in Bismarck and April is right around the corner.  Hopefully, it will bring with it some much needed moisture for our farm and ranch customers.  They could certainly use the relief!  And, so could our ag lenders!

     Speaking of relief, it’s been a decade of drought for community bankers when it comes to the subject of relief from the regulatory burden created in large part by the financial crisis 10 years ago.  Until now.  The advocacy efforts of community bankers across this country helped spawn a nice soaking shower in the form of Senate Bill 2155.  Introduced late last year, it’s been a bit of a roller coaster getting this bill to the Senate floor.  

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But just when we thought sensible bipartisan legislation was a thing of the past, 26 co-sponsors from both sides of the aisle rallied together (despite the sabotage efforts of the Senate Banking Committee’s ranking member) to get S. 2155 to the floor, past the flurry of distractive amendment efforts, to a filibuster-proof vote of 67 to 31.  Many thanks to Senators Heitkamp and Hoeven for their votes on this bill.  Senator Heitkamp played a crucial role in this bill as she and other members of the Senate Banking Committee took the lead and kept the momentum going when it looked like our chance of some relief was falling apart. 

     There’s much to like in this bill including: expanded exemptions from HMDA reporting and escrow requirements, “qualified mortgage” status for mortgage loans held in portfolio by institutions under $10 billion in assets, simplified community bank capital rules, a short-form call report and increased eligibility for the 18-month exam cycle.  It also eases some appraisal requirements, exempts institutions with assets less than $10 billion from the Volcker Rule, expands access the Fed’s Small Bank Holding Company Policy Statement, and improves regulatory treatment of reciprocal deposits and certain municipal securities.

      Now it’s on to the House and ICBND and community banking advocates across the country are pushing for swift passage of this legislation.  We all know this bill isn’t going to change your world drastically overnight, but it does represent some momentum that is sorely needed.          Let it rain!

     Happy Spring Everyone!

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