State Legislative Group Protests OCC Preemption

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State lawmakers have united against the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency's expansion of its power to exempt national banks from state laws and enforcement actions.

Joining the list of critics of the OCC preemption rules, issued in January, the National Conference of State Legislatures has approved a lobbying platform that says only Congress should have the authority to override state consumer protection and other statutes.

"NCSL strongly believes that a high burden of proof must be established before federal preemption of state banking authority is justified and that only Congress -- and not federal regulatory agencies -- can preempt the actions of elected state leaders," said a five-page policy statement the group unanimously approved July 23.

The bipartisan group represents the legislatures of all 50 states.

The policy statement, which serves as the foundation for the NCSL's federal lobbying efforts, said state legislatures "oppose any effort by the OCC to assert its regulatory authority to weaken the standard of preemption or shield national banks from state consumer protection laws and enforcement."

Also, the group "supports congressional efforts to eliminate the judicial deference given to the OCC by federal courts in challenges to state financial services laws and to rein in OCC abuse of its regulatory authority to preempt state laws."

The policy statement "gives our effort to communicate these sentiments to Congress strong footing," said Cheye Calvo, the director of the NCSL's financial services committee. …