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Letter: Bill axed unneeded burdens for banks

To the editor,

At Citizens State Bank of Finley, the fundamental goal of our business is to see our community succeed. When families are able to grow and buy homes, farmers are able to get their crops to market, and small businesses are able to expand, we grow stronger and more prosperous together.

Rural communities like ours face unique challenges — and that's especially true when it comes to regulations affecting local banks. Services many folks sometimes take for granted — like obtaining a home loan — are made harder by regulations that don't take our North Dakota way of life into account. That makes it even more important for consumers to have the choice of a local lender, who understands their community's challenges and needs.

But community banks face stiff competition from the big banks, which are more easily able to absorb the increasing cost of compliance with increasingly complex regulations. In the past few decades, the number of community banks in the United States has decreased by about two-thirds — not a good trend for the future of relationship lending.

When the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform bill was signed into law in 2010, its goal was to prevent another financial crisis. But the added regulations intended to make big banks less systemically risky burdened community banks like Citizens State Bank of Finley with mountains of new paperwork that did little to make our economy as a whole stronger, especially when community banks weren't responsible for the financial crisis in 2008.

That's beginning to change after the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief and Consumer Protection Act was signed into law. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp listened to the concerns of community banks and rural communities and worked for years with her Republican colleagues to negotiate and write a strong bill that has removed unnecessary burdens for banks like ours. As a result, we can now focus on investing time and resources into the success of our neighbors instead of unnecessary and costly paperwork.

The success of Heitkamp's legislation shows that when folks in Washington listen to the concerns of rural communities, they can get results if they just work together to find common ground. The real winners are our neighbors in rural America, who won't be beholden to Wall Street banks that don't understand them or their communities.

Chad Aberle, president

Citizens State

Bank, Finley, N.D.