Two industry groups trying to keep interstate branching from coming to Kansas are opposing a legislative plan to put off a decision until 1997.

Last week the Kansas House Committee on Financial Institutions and Insurance recommended studying whether branching should be invited. The study would defer until next year action on legislation to prevent out-of- state banks from branching into Kansas.

This so-called opt-out bill is supported by both the Kansas Bankers Association and the Community Bankers Association of Kansas. And both groups want a vote on the legislation soon - not next year, when the study would be completed.

Kansas is one of several states still trying to resolve branching issues before the June 1997 kickoff of nationwide interstate branching.

The trade groups are investigating several options, including asking the committee to reconsider the study or tacking opt-out language to another piece of banking legislation.

"The bill is still very viable and open to further action by the committee," said Jim Maag, senior vice president of the Kansas Bankers Association. "In talking with the legislative leadership, there is a strong sense that the Legislature should vote on the issue this session.

"How that vote will take place and when are still very much up in the air."

J. Sue Anderson, executive director of the Community Bankers Association of Kansas, said branching is not just a banking issue. "It's an issue as to what capital is going to be available for Kansas and what accountability the state is going to hold over banks," she said.

Kansas banks also are concerned about tax and community reinvestment issues for out-of-state branches, Mr. Maag said. "Everybody pretty much agrees that Kansas is going to be a host state rather than a home state."

Some banks in the state, such as Fourth Financial Corp., Wichita, which recently was acquired by Missouri's Boatmen's Bancshares, are pushing a competing bill that would let Kansas opt in to branching before June 1997. That bill is pending in the financial institutions committee but is not expected to be approved, according to the trade groups.

William J. Rainey, Fourth Financial's executive vice president and general counsel, said his company is "concerned that opting out would label Kansas as an isolationist and backward state."

Opt-out supporters "are fighting, and the war is over," said Mark T. Lair, president of $160 million-asset Southeast Bancshares, Chanute, which has six banks in southeast Kansas.

Mr. Rainey said Bank IV supports the legislative study.

"We would regard it as an acceptable solution for the time being.

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