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MBA prepares to monitor upcoming legislative session

JACKSON — The Mississippi Bankers Association (MBA) looks out for its 104 member banks by offering classes, services and monitoring legislation of interest to banking. This time of year the organization is preparing for the upcoming session of the Legislature, which convenes in January.

Chad Driskell, MBA’s senior vice president of government affairs, says the organization currently has no plans to have any legislation introduced but won’t rule out the possibility. He and others follow issues of concern to the banking industry closely. He will comb through approximately 3,500 bills that will be filed to figure out which ones affect banking.

“If there’s something we’re interested in, we’ll get a legislative member to introduce it for us,” he said.
Driskell and others in the organization keep legislators informed about issues of concern to banking. “We do a lot of educating legislators on the aspects of the banking business when they’re in session,” he said. “They don’t have large staffs and resources and we feel our information helps them.”

The MBA is taking a hard look at interstate branching with banks. “Banks can not freely branch into the state,” Driskell said. “They must acquire an existing bank or start a new bank and hold it for five years before branching out. Last year the organization looked at a reciprocal law such as the one in Tennessee.”

Another issue of concern is the possibility of retail businesses opening banks as industrial loan companies. It came up in Utah recently when Wal-Mart and Home Depot looked at going into banking and made application to the Federal Deposit Insurance Company. Driskell says the possibility is also a concern to some folks on Capital Hill in Washington.

“Mixing banking and pure commerce is not good. We feel it’s not a good idea to mix a purely commercial enterprise with banking and financial services,” he said. “We will do some education on this issue.”

More than a year after Hurricane Katrina, MBA has a lot going on in South Mississippi and with the Gulf Opportunity Zone that includes two-thirds of the state. Driskell said the association will closely follow any legislative action involving hurricane recovery, especially those concerning property and casualty insurance in South Mississippi and the state in general.

“We are concerned with any insurance proposals and how they affect Mississippi; the availability and affordability of residential and commercial coverage,” he said. “We will take a hard look at anything that puts an unfair burden on the insurance industry. We want to keep these companies in the state doing business.”

The MBA does not endorse candidates but does support some through the group’s political action arm, MissBankPAC. “We supported all the incumbent candidates in the recent election and next year we will be real busy with the statewide elections,” Driskell said.

The MBA’s 104 bank members represent 12,000 banking employees and about 99% of the assets held by banks and savings and loan institutions in the state.

“We try to be all things to all members and are always looking at ways to help our members,” Driskell said. “We have a committee looking at products and services to endorse for our members.”

He points out that different members have different needs. A small bank may rely on the association for education needs and a large bank may rely on it for government relations. A large part of those services is putting on educational conferences and workshops. Some are daylong programs and others are half day.

“These educational resources are used a lot by members,” he said. “We’re doing them in different ways now; using more phone and Web seminars. The Webinars are popular because bank employees don’t have to take time to travel or be out of the office.”

The health of the banking industry is very good, Driskell says, and it’s a strong part of the state’s economy. “The industry is tremendous as banks continue to grow and expand,” he said. “We’re excited with the growth in South Mississippi and the manufacturing opportunities in Central and North Mississippi.”

The association produces several publications for members. The Mississippi Banking Directory lists all commercial banks and savings institutions in the state and is complete with addresses and phone and fax numbers. The Mississippi Banker is a bimonthly magazine that has been the organization’s official publication since 1914. The Selected Mississippi Statutes publication includes all state code sections related to banking.

Contact MBJ contributing Lynn Lofton at llofton656@aol.com.


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