WASHINGTON — A bipartisan group of lawmakers is poised to introduce a bill Tuesday that would streamline quarterly call reports in an effort to help ease the compliance burden on the community banks.

Reps. Randy Hultgren, R-Ill., and Terri Sewell, D-Ala., are introducing the Community Bank Burdensome Reporting Relief Act, which would create a short-form call report that small institutions could fill out every first and third quarter.

"Congress must take every step possible to help community banks spend less time completing paperwork for the government, so they can spend more time out in their communities making affordable loans to small businesses and future homeowners," Hultgren said in a statement.

Community bankers have lamented how long and detailed call reports have become. They've grown from nearly 30 pages in 2003 to more than 80 pages, with 700 additional pages of instruction. In a 2014 Independent Community Bankers of America survey, 73% of participants said they spent more time preparing the reports than they did 10 years ago, and 86% said it cost more money to prepare the reports.

"A short-form call report would still provide sufficient information for the regulators, and the time saved two quarters a year could be reallocated by senior management to serving the credit needs of our local communities," said Greg Ohlendorf, president and chief executive of the $140 million-asset First Community Bank and Trust in Beecher, Ill.

Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., also introduced legislation in the last Congress that would have reduced call report line items. Regulators have signaled they would be open to reducing the reporting requirements for stable community banks, but no changes have been implemented yet.

"A one-size-fits-all approach to regulation, in the form of financial reporting requirements, ignores the diversity of our banking system and diverts precious time and potential resources from the communities that these neighborhood banks serve," Sewell said in a statement. "Congress must take sensible and pragmatic steps to relieve unnecessary and burdensome financial reporting requirements for community banks."

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