Womack S&L bill clears House

WASHINGTON — The House on Tuesday easily approved legislation proposed by U.S. Rep. Steve Womack, R-Rogers, to provide small savings and loan companies more flexibility in raising investment capital.

The legislation builds on a law that Womack and Rep. Jim Himes, D-Conn., championed two years ago that gives small community banks the ability to raise additional capital before needing to register with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The bill, approved 417-4, would raise from 500 to 2,000 the shareholder threshold that triggers the need to file with the SEC. Womack and Himes said Tuesday that S&L companies were inadvertently left off the legislation for community banks that became law in 2012.

“This is a rare example of a wise, bipartisan bill that will achieve something important,” Himes said on the floor Tuesday.

Womack also spoke on the floor in support of the bill, saying it would relieve an unnecessary burden for small financial institutions as they seek money to loan to individuals and businesses in their communities.

“S&Ls weren’t the cause of the financial crisis, so they shouldn’t be treated as if they were,” he said.

Womack noted that the bill would simplify banking regulations by treating all community banks and savings and loans the same.

The Senate has not taken up the legislation. A similar bill is pending there.