House passes banking bill

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The House passed a bill that would require Minnesota banks to follow the same guidelines as federal ones, permitting derivative transactions for state charter banks. It would also clarify holiday closures for financial institutions.

Sponsored by Rep. Diane Anderson (R-Eagan) and Sen. Dan Sparks (DFL-Austin), HF2227/ SF1735* now goes to the governor’s desk. It was passed 65-0 by the Senate March 19.

On the House floor, DFLers unsuccessfully offered a series of amendments, including several that sought to assist homeowners facing foreclosure. Rep. Joe Mullery (DFL-Mpls), who introduced two of the amendments, said that the changes would provide Minnesotans with increased opportunities to keep their homes.

“I wish you would come to north Minneapolis and see the devastation caused by indiscriminate foreclosures. … They’ve happened because banks refuse to do what they’re required to do,” he said.

Republicans asserted that such safeguards already exist in Minnesota statute.

Rep. Jim Davnie (DFL-Mpls) also unsuccessfully offered two amendments. The first would increase communication between banks and underwater mortgage holders looking to sell their homes; the other would ban banks from charging customers for services they do not provide. Republicans again claimed these regulations are currently in Minnesota law.

Controversy elevated when Rep. Joe Atkins (DFL-Inver Grove Heights) unsuccessfully introduced an amendment that would remove the allowance of derivative transactions outlined in the bill. He questioned Anderson’s knowledge of the risks associated with those transactions, saying derivatives pose a potential danger to everyday consumers.

This claim was refuted by Republicans, who argued that permitting derivative transactions would allow state banks to remain competitive with national banks, which may already work with derivatives under federal law.

The House also defeated an amendment posed by Rep. Karen Clark (DFL-Mpls), which would encourage financial institutions to help those wishing to send money to the horn of Africa. Banks currently ban this over fears that these money transfers may fund terrorism.