ICBA Announces 2015 Community Banking Policy Priorities

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The Independent Community Bankers of America® (ICBA) today announced its top legislative and regulatory priorities for 2015. ICBA made the announcement in Orlando, Fla. at its national convention, ICBA Community Banking LIVE®, the largest community banking industry event in the world.

ICBA’s top policy priorities support solutions that will help ensure community banks have the utmost opportunity to support local economic growth and job creation.

The Independent Community Bankers of America® (ICBA) today announced its top legislative and regulatory priorities for 2015. ICBA made the announcement in Orlando, Fla. at its national convention, ICBA Community Banking LIVE®, the largest community banking industry event in the world.

“ICBA’s top policy priorities support solutions that will help ensure community banks have the utmost opportunity to support local economic growth and job creation,” said Jack A. Hartings, incoming ICBA chairman and president and CEO of The Peoples Bank Co. in Coldwater, Ohio. “ICBA and community banks nationwide will remain laser focused on reducing excessive regulatory burden, promoting equitable regulation of tax-exempt credit unions and Farm Credit System institutions, addressing pressing data security and cybersecurity issues—all while supporting specific solutions that allow community banks to continue to serve the needs of their local customers.”

ICBA’s top priorities for 2015 include:

RELIEF FROM CRUSHING REGULATORY BURDEN:
Enacting meaningful regulatory relief to help community banks support the credit needs of their customers, serve their communities, and contribute to their local economies. ICBA’s Plan for Prosperity platform for the 114th Congress and broader support for tiered regulation promote policies that differentiate between community banks and larger, more complex financial institutions.

MORTGAGE LENDING REFORM:
Reforming the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB’s) mortgage rules to better recognize the strong performance of community bank mortgage lending. Efforts to protect consumers from abusive or unsound lending practices should not prohibit responsible, proven community bank loan products created to meet the diverse needs of consumers, such as lower-income and rural borrowers.

CONSUMER FINANCIAL PROTECTION BUREAU:
Supporting legislation that ensures broad input and expertise into consumer-protection regulations. The association supports legislation that would replace single-director governance of the CFPB with a five-member commission as well as greater participation by the prudential banking regulators in the consumer protection rule-writing process.

DATA SECURITY AND FRAUD:
Advocating data-security principles to prevent additional data breaches at national retail chains and others. ICBA believes the costs of data breaches should ultimately be borne by the party that incurs the breach; all participants in the payments system—including merchants—should be subject to Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act-like data security standards; a national data security breach and notification standard should be implemented to replace the current patchwork of state laws; and unnecessary barriers to effective threat-information sharing between law enforcement and the financial and retail sectors should be removed.

FAIR LENDING:
Calling for consistent and transparent standards for evaluating community bank fair-lending practices. ICBA supports full transparency in the enforcement of fair-lending laws, and opposes any cause of action under the Fair Housing Act for disparate impact without a finding of intentional discrimination.

CYBERSECURITY:
Ensuring any federal cybersecurity legislation recognizes existing community bank mandates. Current federal and state laws, regulations, and guidance relating to securing data, including the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, require community banks to protect customer data and maintain a consumer notification plan in the event of a data breach.

PAYMENTS SYSTEMS ACCESS AND GOVERNANCE:
Supporting payment systems that are competitive, progressive and secure. ICBA supports efforts that offer fair and open access to all community banks regardless of size and operational capability to meet the existing and evolving global payment needs of their customers.

TAX-EXEMPT CREDIT UNIONS:
Urging Congress to review the credit union industry’s unwarranted federal tax subsidy. ICBA continues to oppose expanded powers for credit unions, particularly the industry’s proposals to raise the cap on member business lending and allow supplemental capital, as long as credit unions remain exempt from taxation and the Community Reinvestment Act.

TAX-ADVANTAGED FARM CREDIT SYSTEM:
Urging Congress to restrict the Farm Credit System to its historical mission of serving the agricultural market place. ICBA adamantly opposes the FCS’s expansionist agenda to allow FCS lenders to become the equivalent of commercial banks while retaining their government-sponsored enterprise (GSE) status and inherent tax and funding advantages.

ACCOUNTING/AUDITING:
Prohibiting any impairment model for loans and investment securities that places undue cost burdens on community banks. When accounting standards are developed, provisions should be made for smaller financial institutions and businesses so that the cost of implementing the standards does not outweigh their benefit to financial statement users.

HOUSING FINANCE REFORM AND REGULATION OF THE GSES:
Ensuring reforms of the housing-finance system preserve community bank access and protect taxpayers from another bailout. Robust secondary market access is critical for community banks to support mortgage-lending demand in their communities, particularly the demand for long-term, fixed-rate lending.

COMMUNITY BANK ACCESS TO CAPITAL:
Supporting legislative and regulatory changes that would improve the ability of community banks to raise capital to better serve their local communities. Community banks need capital to make loans and to provide essential banking services.

TAX POLICY:
Advocating tax laws that promote robust economic activity and a vibrant community banking sector and foster saving and investment. ICBA will continue to protect community banks and secure needed tax relief encompassing both corporate and individual tax laws.

ENDING TOO-BIG-TO-FAIL:
Supporting legislation and regulatory changes that would end megabank advantages. The greatest ongoing threat to the safety and soundness of the U.S. banking system is the dominance of a small number of too-big-to-fail megabanks.

For more information, visit http://www.icba.org.

About ICBA
The Independent Community Bankers of America®, the nation’s voice for more than 6,500 community banks of all sizes and charter types, is dedicated exclusively to representing the interests of the community banking industry and its membership through effective advocacy, best-in-class education and high-quality products and services. For more information, visit http://www.icba.org.
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Aleis Stokes
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