WASHINGTON -- When bankers compare the interstate branching bill to other recent pieces of banking legislation, they're struck by what's missing: provisions that are harmful to banks.
"It is unusual," said Karen Shaw, president of the Institute for Strategy Development. "This bill is clean. It doesn't have the kind of cute little provisions where you can say, 'Ooh, someone put their kid through. college on that one.'"
The bill, which President Clinton is expected to sign next week, would let banks acquire institutions across state borders while requiring the acquisitions to remain as separately chartered, free-standing banks.
And after June 1, 1997, interstate organizations would be able to merge banks they own into a single organization.
All of which seems like forward progress to bankers who are used to equating new banking legislation with another increase in regulatory burdens.
"As far as we can tell, it's a pretty damn good bill as it is and there won't be any need for technical amendments," said John Rippey, legislative director at the Bankers Roundtable.
"We're not finding any glitches. It provides effectively for nationwide banking and branching.
"It's more seamless than we thought, and the more bankers digest it, the more they are going to like it."
Although most bank lobbyists agree they were unusually successful in blocking amendments that may have added to the industry's regulatory requirements, some see a few small areas of concern that may crop up in the near future.
"As far as unanticipated consequences are concerned, the bill is a major document," Mr. Rippey said.
"There may be discoveries made over the next year as lawyers read over the thing, though most of them will be favorable for banks."
One topic that may arise down the road concerns possible jurisdictional disputes between state and national consumer protections.
"There is language in the bill about the applicability of state consumer protection laws to national banks," said Edward L. Yingling, chief lobbyist for the American Bankers Association. "This bill may raise the ante of this applicability. It has intensified the focus and may result in some litigation down the road."
State banks also have raised a few concerns about preparations they must make because of a provision concerning foreign banks.
"Foreign banks will be allowed to branch into any state," said Doyle Bartlett, general counsel for the Conference of State Bank Supervisors. "We're no longer treating foreign banks as a foreign animal. That's a shift, the long-term implications of which are unknown. Those states need to be prepared to handle that."
However, early concerns that state tax revenues would be affected by the new legislation appears to have faded.
"The bill basically says it won't have much effect on states' authority to make decisions on taxes,"' Mr. Bartlett said. "It gives states enough time to decide what to do with taxes and state charter branching. This bill is much cleaner than we expected it to be."