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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – In a budget-cutting move, the state of Missouri is developing a plan to consolidate its regulation of credit unions, banks and insurance into a single financial services department. The Division of Credit Unions and the Division of Finance, which regulates banks, thrifts and other financial institutions, are currently under the Department of Economic Development. The separate Department of Insurance regulates insurance companies. Randy McConnell, a spokesman for the insurance department, said the state is considering a reorganization that would consolidate the regulation of financial services into a single department. McConnell said no public proposal has yet been offered. The action could be accomplished by executive order of Gov. Bob Holden, but would require legislative action to implement the change. Scott Lakin, director of the Department of Insurance, began meeting last week with executives of regulated groups. He met with credit union executives at a CommunityAmerica Credit Union branch in Kansas City on Feb. 7. John P. Smith, director of the credit union division, said he has not been thoroughly briefed on the Holden administration plan but said that he expected the division “would retain our independent status in the Department of Insurance . I can’t say more than that, because I don’t know more than that.” Smith’s division regulates 166 state-chartered credit unions. “We don’t have a problem with that,” said Rosie Holub, president of the Missouri Credit Union Association, prior to that meeting. “It will not make any difference that we see now.” Herbert Hoosman, president of Vantage Credit Union, a $415 million credit union based in Bridgeton, agreed with Holub. “At this point, it looks as if it should be business as usual, no one is being dismissed or forced out.” McConnell describes the consolidation as similar to reorganizations in Michigan and New Jersey. In Michigan, an Office of Financial and Insurance Services is a subcabinet unit of the Department of Consumer and Industry Services. The director of the credit union division, which supervises 279 state-chartered credit unions, reports to the OFIS commissioner. In New Jersey, the Office of Consumer Finance of the Division of Banking, a unit of the cabinet-level Department of Banking and Insurance, regulates credit unions. New Jersey has only 23 state-chartered credit unions. The credit union association expects an announcement of the consolidation by the middle of February. -

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