NEW YORK -- After years of negotiation, legislation has finally been passed here forcing banks to offer low cost checking accounts. While "basic banking" is not likely to become a national issue soon, the state's law may become a model for others, especially those with large inner-city populations.

The legislation recently approved in Albany requires banks to open accounts with minimum balances of only $1 and to allow eight free withdrawals a month. Banks can't charge more than $25 for opening the accounts and they can't charge more than $3 in monthly service fees.

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