Illinois banks and newspapers have compromised in a battle over call report publication, easing passage of state legislation on the issue.
The agreement, reached last week, would reduce the required publication of call reports from quarterly to once a year. However, national banks have no publication requirements.
The compromise is contained in a bill that was voted out of committee Tuesday and awaits a vote by the full House. A companion piece of legislation repeals requirements that banks publish notice of charter changes and annual meetings.
But for a state to endorse continuation of any required publication would buck a trend initiated by the repeal of similar national bank requirements in 1994.
Thus, hardly anyone is completely happy with the agreement.
"If we had our preference, we would have the state banks have the very same right as the national banks," said William J. Hocter, executive vice president of the Illinois Bankers Association. "Given the situation we're in, we think publishing once a year is a fine compromise."
Larry Kramer, president and chief executive of $40 million-asset Flora Bank and Trust said that although his bank will continue to publish detailed quarterly reports, what aggravates him is the continued disparity between state and national banks.
"I think what they've come up with is a compromise politically that still doesn't answer the question: Why is there a difference?" he said. "It was pure, stupid, ignorant politics."
And at the Illinois Press Association, government affairs manager Beth Bennett said her organization was "not happy" with the final amendment, "But we realized the political realities of the situation. This had been a very contentious and heated debate."
The bill, which has passed the Illinois Senate, is being considered in the House this week and is likely to pass now that battle over it has subsided.
Because numerous states have been repealing such laws since 1994, it was unclear how many still require call report publication. Some bankers and industry people in Illinois said their state and Alaska are the only ones left.
In September 1994, Richard Luft, then bank commissioner, decided not to enforce a state law requiring banks to publish call reports quarterly. He used a "wild card" statute meant to give state banks parity with national ones.
However, last year he reversed his decision after the Illinois Press Association and some publications sued him to enforce the law. Further, Attorney General Jim Ryan declared that the commissioner's authority did not include relieving state banks of duties imposed by statute.
Legislation to repeal the requirement failed last year.