Guest Commentary

Consumers and small businesses would benefit from bipartisan loan bill

Brad Douglas, president and CEO of Heartland Credit Union Association.
Brad Douglas, president and CEO of Heartland Credit Union Association.

In Kansas City and throughout the region, credit unions and other small financial institutions help us thrive and grow financially. Small businesses that provide key services to consumers and serve as the backbone of our communities depend on credit unions and small banks to provide the loans they need to succeed. Consumers also count on these small, community-based financial institutions when they need car loans or mortgages.

Getting these loans to the people who need them most has become harder and harder because of to regulatory restrictions on local financial institutions. It’s time to right-size regulations and fix the unintended consequences created by Washington bureaucracy.

The Heartland Credit Union Association and credit unions in Missouri and Kansas applaud Sen. Jerry Moran of Kansas and Sens. Roy Blunt and Claire McCaskill of Missouri for leading the way as co-sponsors of Senate Bill 2155, the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief and Consumer Protection Act. This common-sense bill is supported by senators from both sides of the aisle. It delivers on its promises and keeps important consumer protections in place while allowing community-based financial institutions — like credit unions — to do their job and improve the financial well-being of the working families they serve.

Key provisions in this bill would ease mortgage lending and free up capital for small businesses. These two essential steps would help grow an economy that has suffered from both a financial crisis and the impact of regulations that treat all financial institutions the same, without focusing on the bad actors who led us into the financial crisis.

The bill would also provide parity for consumers who seek to purchase rental properties with up to four apartments in them, by treating these types of loans the same way at both credit unions and banks. That would free up loan dollars that could then be used to help more small businesses and reinvigorate communities.

The economic growth bill would be a major step forward in addressing the needs of credit unions and other small financial institutions.

By tailoring regulations, rather than a one-size-fits-all solution, this legislation would give Missouri and Kansas credit unions more ways to efficiently serve working families across our states by:

▪ Empowering credit unions to spend more time and resources addressing member service needs and providing consumer-friendly products and services by adjusting reporting thresholds.

▪ Giving consumers better and more efficient ways to purchase a home, such as making it easier for creditors to extend a second offer of a mortgage loan as soon as it becomes available.

▪ Helping protect senior citizens vulnerable to elder financial abuse.

▪ Pushing the U.S. Treasury to study ways to better combat cybercrime.

One thing this bill is not: It is not a free pass for Wall Street. It strengthens consumer protections and keeps Dodd-Frank Act reforms in place to address problems caused by big, irresponsible financial institutions.

At a time when Washington doesn’t seem to agree on much, more than 20 senators from both parties have signed onto this bill. Regulatory relief isn’t a Democrat versus Republican issue. It’s about helping people.

Overregulation hurts hard-working families and hinders our small businesses in the Kansas City region, and that isn’t good for our communities or the economy.

The credit unions of Missouri and Kansas thank Sens. Moran, Blunt and McCaskill for their support of S.B. 2155, and urge Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas to join in this effort.

This bill would go a long way to improve the financial well-being of the more than 2.5 million people we serve across both states, each and every day.

Brad Douglas is the president and CEO of Heartland Credit Union Association, based in Overland Park.

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