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Rounds, Blunt Introduce Bill to Allow Community Banks to Better Serve Rural Areas

WASHINGTON—U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), a member of the Senate Banking Committee, and U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), today introduced legislation to support and strengthen lending in local communities. The Community Bank Access to Capital Act of 2015 would roll back burdensome financial regulations to make it easier for community banks to serve their customers, who often reside in rural areas with fewer lending options.

“Community banks are the lifeblood of small businesses and economic activity in South Dakota and other rural areas,” said Rounds. “Relieving community banks from unnecessary regulatory burdens will increase credit access for South Dakota families across the state. With more than 6,500 community banks in the U.S., the federal government must make sure they are helping – not hindering – their ability to grow and support their communities.”

“Community banks are an integral part of Missouri’s economy and the communities they serve,” Blunt said. “These banks often are the primary lenders to small businesses and farmers across the state. The Community Bank Access to Capital Act of 2015 gives our local banks relief from burdensome financial regulations, allowing them to better serve and meet the needs of local businesses which will lead to investment and economic growth in communities in Missouri and nationwide.”

The Community Bank Access to Capital Act of 2015 would:

  • exempt community banks with $50 billion or less in assets from the Basel III capital rules;
  • increase the Small Bank Holding Company Policy Statement qualifying asset threshold from $1 billion to $5 billion;
  • exempt publicly held community banks with less than $1 billion in assets from the Sarbanes-Oxley Act’s internal control attestation requirements;
  • allow savings and loan holding companies to use the Securities and Exchange Commission’s new deregistration and registration thresholds; and
  • preserve current Securities and Exchange Commission rules regarding the definition of “accredited investor.”

Earlier this year, the Community Bank Access to Capital Act of 2015 was introduced in the House of Representatives by Scott Garrett (R-N.J.), Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Capital Markets and Government-Sponsored Enterprises. It is supported by the South Dakota Independent Community Bankers (ICBA) and national ICBA.