WASHINGTON - National bank regulators say that institutions may permanently lose the right to branch into other jurisdictions if their home state "opts out" of the nation's interstate branching law.

In its first assessment of whether a state's decision to opt out of branching is reversible, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency said that the law is unclear. The agency's view recently was solicited informally by one state and was repeated in a public meeting here this week.

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