Bankers Urge Congress to Pass HOLA Flexibility Bills

A total of 130 OCC-regulated savings associations signed onto an ABA letter today urging congressional leaders to support legislation that would allow institutions chartered under the Home Owners’ Loan Act to elect to operate more like banks without having to change their charters — a key part of ABA’s Agenda for America’s Hometown Banks.

“We want to serve all of the needs of our communities, not just the housing needs, but those of small business and borrowers of all kinds,” the letter said. “Under existing law, we are limited in our efforts to serve those important economic needs. [This legislation] gives us the tools we need to best serve our communities, without imposing costly and burdensome requirements to change our charters or ownership structure.”

The House version of the bill (H.R. 1660) was introduced by Reps. Keith Rothfus (R-Pa.) and Jim Himes (D-Conn.), and S. 2722, an identical bill, was introduced by Sens. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) and Jerry Moran (R-Kan.). This bipartisan legislation would allow any OCC-regulated savings association (stock or mutual) to voluntarily elect to operate and invest like a national bank, and be regulated by the OCC as such. The bills are modeled after a similar approach taken at the state level in Massachusetts and have the support of Comptroller of the Currency Thomas Curry.

The House version of the bill was passed by a voice vote in the Financial Services Committee in November 2015 and is currently awaiting action by the full House. The Senate version of the bill was introduced last month and is currently awaiting action by the Banking Committee.