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Guest Column

Preserving local community banks is goal of Choice Act


When I drive around the smaller towns of the congressional district that I represent, one of the things I like to spot is what I call "staple businesses." These are often "mom and pop" small businesses that have been around for decades and which you can find sprinkled all across America. Whether it's a local pharmacy that has been filling prescriptions for generations, a family-run dry cleaner, or even a small salon or barber shop, what is never missing from view are local community banks.

Your local community bank, much like local community banks all across the nation, play a significant role in a community's economic development. It's the place where small businesses turn to for financing, where families often turn for consumer loans, and where individual financial needs are addressed in a personal and unique manner - rather than in a large corporate one-size-fits-all banking institution. While the days of closing a loan with a simple handshake and a mutual understanding may be gone, these institutions often better reflect the communities they do business in, not only because they want the repeat business, but because they are an active part of their communities and often are more invested at the local level than are large financial institutions.

If you think you have seen less and less of these community banks over the last few years, it's no coincidence, so have I. Since the passing of Dodd-Frank in 2010, a bill which was intended to promote financial stability and consumer protections after the 2008 financial crisis, small community banks have been under a regulatory siege that has caused many to either close their doors or forced to merge into larger banks - ironically making big banks even bigger or "too big to fail." While the intentions of this legislation may have been initially positive, it has resulted in over 22,000 pages of mind-numbing regulations that all financial entities, regardless of size, must abide by. Community banks and many credit unions don't have the capacity to hire all of the staff needed to comply with all of these layers of complex regulations. They have had to either shift staff to fulfill compliance requirements or eliminated some service products - such as mortgages, lines of credit and even some types of small business loans. This, of course, is contrary to what we as consumers would like to see happen and why action was needed to repeal and replace this deeply flawed law.

So, with my support, the House of Representatives passed the Choice Act in hopes of not only bringing more accountability and transparency to our financial sector but to also help these community banks do business in a manner that reflects the best interest of the our local communities where they do business. By eliminating or streamlining onerous regulations that are currently in place that stifle lending while at the same time guaranteeing that taxpayers will never be on the hook for another bank "bailout," this bill will help stop the regulatory destruction of community banks - and yes, keep these local community banks open for business.

U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman represents Colorado's 6th Congressional District, which includes Aurora, Centennial, Littleton, Highlands Ranch and parts of Adams County, among other areas.


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