TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Florida bankers got their first look at a reciprocal regional interstate banking bill Monday amid signs that the banking industry still must resolve many internal disagreements on the issue.
Gov. Bob Graham's Advisory Commission on Regional Interstate Banking took no action on the measure drafted by banking lawyers, but set a schedule that calls for it to make its key decisions at a Feb. 20 meeting here.
Regional banking will be a major item on the legislature's agenda when lawmakers meet in April and May. Some independent bankers still object to the idea. The Florida Bankers Association is neutral but may change its position at a meeting later this month.
The governor used the panel's first meeting to plug regional banking as an intermediate step on the road to full-fledged nationwide banking. He said it would assure that big banks with strong ties to the South would emerge that could meet the needs of local customers before money center banks enter Florida in full force.
"The bankers are going to come out OK no matter what happens," Gov. Graham said. "Who is at risk are the consumers and the business community."
The measure would allow bank holding companies in 10 other Southern states and the District of Columbia to acquire Florida banks if Florida banks have the same privilege in any of the other states. Out-of-state bank companies could not be given de novo charters.
The bill is silent on when the barriers to bank holding companies outside the region, such as the money center banks, would be allowed to come into Florida.
The measure …