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What the 2021 Legislative Session Looks Like for Bankers

By Rose Oswald Poels

Advocacy is one of the core tenets of WBA’s mission and this year, like every election year, volunteer bankers and staff worked diligently over many months to craft our 2021-2022 legislative priorities. Last week, the WBA Board of Directors approved the recommended priorities for the upcoming session. I want to thank the 36 members of our Government Relations Committee for their time and work on this effort, along with the many volunteer bankers serving on our other committees, all of whom contributed to the final product reviewed by the Board.

Some of the issues on our legislative priorities list are new while others are part of an ongoing effort. New this year, is an effort to provide a liability exemption for COVID-19 on premises. Even with news of a vaccine, COVID will still be an issue for businesses, schools, and others continuing to operate with as much normalcy as possible. With the possibility of an on-premise COVID outbreak always lurking, bankers and business owners should not live in constant fear of litigation. Our efforts will mitigate that problem.

Data privacy and cybersecurity will also be a huge issue in the upcoming session partially driven by more reliance on online services and an increase in remote workers. As you know, banks are already required to comply with strict laws and rules. New regulations in this ever-evolving area must be developed and implemented in a manner that does not stifle innovation or frustrate consumers, nor should it add to the burden banks already manage. We’ll be working to ensure harmonization between existing regulatory structures and any new requirements.

Elder financial abuse prevention continues to be a priority. You helped craft legislation during the last session giving banks tools to better protect your customers from fraud and abuse. Due to a variety of factors, none of the bipartisan proposals were signed into law last session. With your help, we are going to get these critical bills across the finish line and signed into law.

Finally, we have crafted a focused plan to start to chip away at the unfairness related to credit unions. Earlier this year, I formed a Credit Union Task Force of nine bankers who researched and suggested strategies to help move us closer to the goal of credit union fairness. For example, we will continue the conversations started during our fall virtual Capitol Days around the permanent loss of revenue local and state governments experience when a non-tax paying institution acquires some or all of a tax-paying entity’s assets. In addition, we will continue our focus at the state and federal level on ECORA legislation and, where possible, the ABC Act. The plan developed by this Task Force was incorporated into our overall legislative agenda approved by the Board last week.

These are just a few of the issues outlined in our comprehensive legislative priorities plan developed by our volunteer leaders for the upcoming session. WBA is your trade association and our advocacy revolves around your needs. If you have specific ideas or needs that require legislative action, please do not hesitate to let me or any of the WBA advocacy team know. As always, WBA will closely monitor all legislative proposals as they arise during the course of the session while we execute this plan, and we are ready to act or pivot as needed to maximize positive outcomes for the industry. We remain humbled to represent this critical industry in our state and look forward to a productive 2021-2022 session.

WBA Spotlight 

Join our conversation with Chicago Fed President Charles Evans during the Midwest Economic Forecast Forum held Jan. 7. More information is available here.

WBA released its 2019-2020 Advocacy Report highlighting our advocacy efforts on your behalf. You can download the report here.