On Thursday, Congressman Bill Huizenga spoke in support of H.R. 4771, the Small Bank Holding Company Relief Act. This bipartisan bill sponsored by Congresswoman Mia Love would reduce burdensome regulation on community banks and further strengthen the ability of these local financial institutions to support local small businesses across West Michigan. H.R. 4771 passed the House by a vote of 280-139. Congressman Huizenga is a member of the Financial Services Committee, and serves as Chairman of the Capital Markets, Securities, and Investment Subcommittee.
We've been hearing some of the details about the bill, but here's the real message: this is about our small communities and small banks that are the lifeblood of those communities. A little earlier you heard the ranking member talking about this being about Wall Street. You know what? She’s right. This is about Wall Street. Wall Street was one block away from where I lived on Sanford Street in Zeeland, Michigan. We were connected by Main Street and Central Avenue. That is who it is about. Whether it's Wall Street in Zeeland, Michigan, or Sanford Street, or my friends in Baldwin, Michigan, this is about our small communities.
So what does a strong local community bank bring? It brings local investment. What does that local investment bring? Stability, predictability, trust – trust among the farmers, among those corner pub owners, among those small hotel owners that may be depending on the stray traveler that's going to be coming through.
This has been sort of viewed as a risk to these small banks. It's actually the opposite of that, because either, “A”, one small community bank is going to merge with another small community bank and they are going to remain small community banks under that $3 billion threshold. Or “B” they're going to get gobbled up by a large bank that doesn't qualify under this legislation and guess what? They're far more likely to remove those ATM's, far more likely to move those local branches out of places like Tustin and Luther and Baldwin and Holland.
If you went and said that this is about anything other than strengthening our small community banks, it either shows one is wildly out of touch or playing politics and that's the sad part. I can tell you this. If you talk to my friend, Debbie Smith-Olson, the CEO of Lake-Osceola State Bank in Baldwin, Michigan located in the poorest county in the State of Michigan and one of the top 100 poorest counties in the nation. If you told her this was about Wall Street, she'd laugh.
If you went and talked to my friends at Macatawa Bank and tried to describe this as about helping big banks and Wall Street and rolling back Dodd-Frank – they would first look at me in stunned silence and then they would ask me, ‘are you serious?’ Unfortunately that's the kind of rhetoric that you're hearing out here today.
Let's make sure that we understand what this is really about – strengthening our small banks which strengthen our small communities and strengthen our small business owners. That is what is going to continue this economic comeback that we are experiencing here in the United States.
I commend the gentlelady from Utah and her work on a bipartisan manner and the basis that this has been coming together with people of good will trying to come up with a solution to make sure that we don't see needless consolidation in a banking community that's already been so hit.
This is about making sure we have a solid community banking system. We know they have been under assault under the Dodd-Frank provisions that have come through that I don't think were maliciously put in, but they were misunderstood about what those effects would be. The gentlelady from Utah is rectifying that. I want to encourage my colleagues to support and vote yes for this very important bill.
This afternoon, I had the privilege of meeting Al Johnson and Keith Cole, two heroes from West Michigan who served our country during WWII as members of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS). Today, the House and Senate presented the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian honor Congress can bestow, to Al, Keith, and members of the OSS to honor their enormous contributions in the effort defeat the axis forces. Thank you both for your incredible service!
"Positive sentiment dominated" the most recent consumer survey from the University of Michigan. An all-time record number of people (59%) stated they are seeing improved financial progress while the number of people citing income gains rose to a five-decade high. This is another clear sign that tax and regulatory reform continues to deliver positive results for hardworking individuals in Michigan and across the country.
The latest study by the NFIB shows small businesses are "optimistic, ready to hire, and prepared to raise wages" because of tax and regulatory reform. Greater opportunity, bigger paychecks, and more jobs is great news because small businesses play such a critical role in West Michigan!
This morning, I joined WOOD Radio to discuss the bipartisan Dodd-Frank reform bill that recently passed the Senate and how it will impact West Michigan. This legislation is a good start, but should be viewed as a floor, not a ceiling. The House has passed dozens of bipartisan, noncontroversial measures (sometimes unanimously) that can be added to the Senate bill to improve it and make it more effective!