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Bill introduced to 'stay' Fed proposal on interchange; we need your help!

S. 575 and H.R. 1081 have been introduced in Congress to “stay” implementation of the Federal Reserve's proposal to limit interchange charges on debit card transactions. Their introduction follows a series of events, including testimony by Oklahoma's Kell Kelly about the need for Congressional action and an all-out lobbying blitz in Washington on March 15 by nearly 900 community bankers from across the country who attended the ABA's Government Relations Summit. Thirty Oklahoma bankers were among those in attendance at the Summit last week, including OBA Chairman Jan Miller, Vice Chairman Jane Haskin, Past Chairman Marty Hansen and State Banking Commissioner Mick Thompson.

The OBA has worked collectively with and through its sister state bankers associations and the ABA to develop a unified approach to the debit card interchange proposal. We've worked closely with credit unions and the ICBA, all for the benefit of Oklahoma's community financial institutions.

Now the challenge is to motivate you and other Oklahoma bankers to persuade the delegation to support these two legislative proposals to stop the Fed's rule.

Sen. Coburn has already signed on as a co-sponsor of S. 575 but so far Sen. Inhofe has declined to do so. In the House, the retailers are putting a lot of pressure on the members, especially Congressmen Dan Boren and Tom Cole.

Big-box companies and Oklahoma retailers like Love's Country Stores will fight to the death to preserve the economic windfall that Dodd-Frank dropped into their collective laps. Home Depot alone stands to benefit from this change to the tune of more than $30 million.

In the end, it will boil down to which group congressional members are more concerned about come election time: bankers and credit unions or retailers. That decision will be made based on the number of “contacts” that are made by each of these respective groups.

We need to engage every bank employee in the state to write or call their congressman and let them know what will happen to consumers if this proposal is left standing: their costs for financial services will increase and their choices will go down. Debit cards will become more expensive and, at the same time, less convenient and accessible.

We're working with the ABA and the Alliance of State Bankers Associations to make it easy for bank employees to let their views be known. Please go to the following link and follow the simple instructions for sending a message to your Congressman and Senator Inhofe, asking them to support these measures. Here's the link: http://bit.ly/stoptheinterchangerule.

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