In Louisiana, credit unions and small banks help our communities thrive and our small businesses grow.

Our state’s dynamic culture and traditions are infused into the small businesses and institutions that serve as the backbone of our local communities. It is no surprise that their primary lenders are credit unions and small banks. And those same credit unions and small banks are who the community turns to when it needs mortgages and auto loans.

But these local financial institutions are facing challenges brought on by Washington bureaucrats. Now is the time to loosen the regulatory restrictions that are limiting their ability to help their communities.

That is why a group of U.S. senators from both sides of the aisle have put together a common-sense piece of legislation that delivers on what it promises: to better allow credit union and small banks to serve consumers. The common-sense fixes in S. 2155, the bipartisan Economic Growth bill, would be a boon for Louisiana small businesses while retaining tough protections for consumers from Wall Street.

Senate Bill 2155 eases mortgage lending and frees capital for small businesses, which are two essential ways to grow an economy that has suffered from both a financial crisis and the regulations put in place in response to it.

By granting credit unions parity with banks on certain types of apartment loans, $4 billion in capital will become available to Louisiana’s small institutions to expand operations, hire additional staff and invest in their communities. Imagine what Louisiana’s small businesses can do with access to extra capital.

The regulatory relief this bill provides is a major step forward in moving away from a system that treats credit unions and community banks the same as the biggest banks, and into a more tailored regulatory climate that gives credit unions, the original consumer protectors, ways to more efficiently serve their consumers.

Adjusted reporting thresholds for credit unions and small financial institutions means less time and resources tied up in reporting data and more time and resources for member service and consumer-friendly products and services. It makes it easier for creditors to extend a second offer of a mortgage loan as soon as it becomes available, giving consumers better and more efficient ways to purchase a home.

It will help to protect seniors vulnerable to elder financial abuse and pushes the Treasury to study ways to better combat cybercrime.

This bill is the farthest thing from the ‘gift to Wall Street’ some opponents claim it is. Nothing in it helps the big banks. Nothing in this bill takes away important consumer protections put in place due to the actions of Wall Street and other bad actors.

Washington doesn’t seem to agree on much, but the fact that over twenty Senators from both sides have signed onto this bill show that regulatory relief isn’t a Democrat vs. Republican issue, it’s a small business vs. Wall Street issue.

And this bill is a much-needed win for the small businesses that make Louisiana unique. Thank you to Senator Kennedy for demonstrating support for this initiative by cosponsoring S.2155. We ask that Senator Cassidy join you in this effort.


Anne Cochran is CEO of the Louisiana Credit Union League.