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Community banks, credit unions applaud Senate bill focused on easing mortgage, loan restrictions

New Hampshire Union Leader

March 15. 2018 11:13PM

CONCORD — Community banks and credit unions in New Hampshire applauded Senate passage of a bill that would make it easier for people to get mortgages and other loans.

“Community banks across the country will do more mortgage lending if this bill goes into place,” Dan Morrison, Optima Bank & Trust president and CEO, said in an interview Thursday.

But the House might put the brakes on the proposal, which seeks to roll back some Dodd-Frank banking restrictions imposed after the national financial crisis.

“Dodd-Frank has crimped our ability to be more flexible with members and work with them on their lending needs,” said Maurice Simard, president and CEO of Triangle Credit Union.

“The (Senate) bill keeps a tight regulatory watch on the big mega institutions and Wall Street, but gives relief to where it is most needed, community institutions like credit unions that are firmly planted on Main Street,” Simard said.

The New Hampshire Bankers Association said the bill would give community banks more latitude in making decisions on home mortgages, reduce capital requirements and cut the paperwork burden. The legislation mostly provides relief for smaller banks by freeing them from some constraints imposed on lenders deemed too-big-to-fail.

“This (Senate) bill is the result of a bipartisan compromise that protects the reforms on the biggest banks and Wall Street while addressing unintentional consequences that had impacted smaller community banks and credit unions, affecting their capacity to lend to entrepreneurs and small businesses,” said Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-NH.

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-NH, who backed Dodd-Frank, said: “As with most broad reform legislation, time reveals improvements that need to be made, and Dodd-Frank is no exception. Main Street lenders did not cause the financial crisis.”

Last, June, the House passed much more ambitious legislation, dubbed the Financial Choice Act, sponsored by House Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling, a Dodd-Frank opponent. It would do away with regulators’ ability to wind down Wall Street banks should they run into trouble, reduce the frequency of bank stress tests and repeal the Volcker Rule ban on banks making speculative market bets with their own capital.

Hensarling said he had no intention of demanding that the Senate sign off on the Financial Choice Act. Instead, he said he wants the Senate to add to its legislation at least some of the 30 stand-alone bills that the House has passed on financial rules in recent months on a bipartisan basis.

The Washington Post contributed.

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