Robert J. Wingert, executive director of the Community Bankers Association of Illinois, has plenty of issues to bat around this week when members of the trade group meet in St. Louis.

The passage of interstate banking legislation by the Senate this week is bound to set members abuzz. That will be the No. 1 topic of discussion. Other topics will include credit unions and the regulatory burden.

Mr. Wingert, who has been with the trade group for 20 years, discussed these issues.

Q.: What are your legislative priorities this year?

WINGERT: From a legislative and regulatory perspective, the association's priorities for the year include developing a position concerning the recently passed interstate banking and branching measure. We should have a policy in fairly short order within the next couple of months.

Q.: What are your main concerns with the legislation?

WINGERT: As far as interstate banking is concerned, we already have that. Whether or not they should be able to convert their acquisitions in Illinois to branches is an issue, and whether we should opt out of that aspect of the legislation or not is something we have to decide.

Lastly, [we have to decide] whether we take any action on interstate branching itself, the de novo aspect of it. That' s an opt-in situation. There are some tangential issues, such as whether or not Illinois should have its own asset concentration limits, as about 18 to 20 other states do, and whether or not they are meaningful.

Q.: What else is on your plate?

WINGERT: Another issue is the credit union common bond and nontax status in which several credit unions have, in our opinion, abridged the principle of common bond and therefore are operating just like for-profit commercial banks and therefore deserve to be taxed on their income. It's an issue that we're looking at from both the state and federal levels.

Of course, the regulatory burden is not going away. There are still many areas that are deserving of review.

Q.: What's going on at the state level ! WINGERT: We're still fairly early in our development of our legislative agenda at the state level, as the Illinois Legislature... begins in the late winter or early spring. On the services side of things, our emphasis has been and will continue to be ... advancing technology and its impact on the performance of community banks. Last year, we developed an advancing technology committee to study all the technological issues that relate to banking, prioritize them, and deal with them one by one.

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