Gary Lazarini had just about given up on the sleepy municipal bond market after the 1986 Tax Reform Act pushed banks away from tax-free debt. But then interest rates began to fall.

"It was a business we had just about done away with," said Mr. Lazarini, president of Commerce Investment Corp., a subsidiary of National Bank of Commerce in Tennessee. "It took 1992 for banks to start to get back into the business, and we feel they are going to be more and more interested in staying in that business."

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