“Local lenders are the lifeblood of cities in Kansas and across the country.”

U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) introduced bipartisan legislation this week to provide regulatory relief to hometown lenders so they can better serve their communities. Moran’s legislation, the Community Lending Enhancement and Regulatory, or CLEAR, Relief Act (S. 1002), was introduced with U.S. Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.).

“Local lenders are the lifeblood of cities in Kansas and across the country,” said Moran. “I often hear from lenders who tell me that overregulation has reduced their ability to provide members of their communities with access to the capital they need to start and grow a small business or buy a home. This legislation would help us create an environment where more small businesses can succeed and more Americans can buy and sell homes with the help of their hometown lender.”

The CLEAR Relief Act would eliminate outdated or unnecessary government regulations that interfere with the lending process between Americans and their community banks, slowing down or stopping altogether the banks’ process in extending loans to those who want to buy homes or start small businesses.

“The CLEAR Relief Act would help community banks meet the needs of their customers and promote local economic growth by providing common-sense relief from many crushing regulatory burdens,” said Independent Community Bankers of America President and CEO Camden R. Fine. “ICBA thanks Sen. Moran and strongly urges Congress to advance this bipartisan legislation to enhance economic and job growth in local communities.”

S. 1002 would:

n Exempt community banks with assets of less than $1 billion from the Sarbanes-Oxley 404(b) internal-controls assessment mandate. Because community banks’ internal control systems are monitored continually by bank examiners, they should not have to sustain the unnecessary annual expense of paying an outside audit firm for attestation work.

n Support the housing recovery by exempting from any escrow requirements any first lien mortgage held by a lender with less than $10 billion in assets.

n Provide “qualified mortgage” status under the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s ability-to-repay rules for any mortgage originated and held in portfolio for at least three years by a lender with less than $10 billion in assets.

n Establish regulatory certainty by exempting small banks from having to comply with the “Volcker Rule,” which was intended for complex financial institutions.

n Allow a creditor to extend a second offer of credit without the current three-day waiting period provided the second offer is at a lower rate for the borrower.

—Jerry Moran represents Kansas in the United States Senate.