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WASHINGTON-The Independent Community Bankers of America marked its 75th anniversary with the introduction of a bill to provide regulatory and tax relief for community banks. The Communities First Act (H.R. 2061) was recently introduced by House Financial Services Committee Member Jim Ryun (R-Kan.). Approximately 300 of ICBA’s community bankers were on Capitol Hill last week to lobby for the bill and commemorate the anniversary with cake during a lunchtime assembly. “Reducing onerous regulatory burdens and creating tax parity and incentives will lower the costs of credit to consumers and keep thousands of towns and smaller cities strong and vital contributors to our economy,” ICBA President and CEO Camden R. Fine remarked. “ICBA has a proud and long legacy as the only national association that exclusively serves our nation’s community banks,” ICBA Chairman David E. Hayes, president of Security Bank of Dyersburg, Tenn., said. “Today, many community bankers were fortunate to be together in Washington to celebrate this special milestone in recognition of that heritage.” ICBA was organized on May 9, 1930 to fight concentration in the financial marketplace. The association currently boasts nearly 5,000 member banks. NAFCU Director of Legislative Affairs Brad Thaler said his organization does not oppose the banker bill and it may prove helpful to credit unions when they go to push for the Credit Union Regulatory Improvements Act. “We note that we don’t take a position on banks as they seek regulatory relief in terms of our position on the measure,” he said. “We do note the increasing hypocrisy of some efforts to seek tax breaks for community banks while trying to pose additional income taxes on credit unions. But in terms of the measure, it will be out there and it will allow lawmakers to show their support for community banks at the same time that we expect that-if not before Memorial Day, shortly after Memorial Day-we will see a CURIA bill in the 109th Congress as well.” Thaler said the community banking bill would not only help focus debate in Congress on the overall regulatory relief package, but it will also allow lawmakers to push for both credit unions and banks at the same time. Regulatory relief legislation has been bogged down on the Senate side for a few years, but action in the Senate may be taken later this summer. “I think the regulatory relief debate in Congress this summer is about to start heating up,” he predicted. [email protected]

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