After clashing earlier this year, the Texas Bankers Association and the state's bank commissioner have reached agreement on policy regarding state-chartered banks.
Ending eight weeks of negotiations, the two sides this week settled on statutory language concerning the commissioner's authority to regulate state-chartered banks in light of a state statute that grants state banks the same rights, powers, and privileges as national banks.
The agreement puts the brakes on a suit the Texas Bankers threatened to file in September against the commissioner and the Texas Finance Commission.
The new language will be inserted into a bank modernization bill for the state's 1995 legislative session.
"I'm happy about it," said Commissioner Catherine A. Ghiglieri. "What we agreed to is going to be good for banking in Texas."
John Heasley, general counsel for the Texas Bankers Association, called the compromise "very optimistic" and "very fair."
At issue was a 1984 amendment to the state constitution that state-chartered banks interpreted to mean that they automatically received the same rights as Texas' nationally chartered banks.
Nevertheless, Ms. Ghiglieri maintained that she needed to approve any practice not allowed by state law, even if national banks may do it.
The new agreement offers an official process for state bank parity.
It would grant an initial 30-day period in which the commissioner must respond after a bank says it intends to begin a certain practice. An extension is possible on more complex issues.
The commissioner can turn down a request only if Texas' national banks don't have the power in question or if it would be unsafe or unsound for the bank, Mr. Heasley said.
The debate was sparked earlier this year after Ms. Ghiglieri wrote rules governing mortgage warehousing that differed from national bank rules over the business, in which banks fund mortgages for mortgage bankers before they are sold on the secondary market.
Ms. Ghiglieri and her predecessor also have required, with some exceptions, a 6% equity capital ratio for state banks, higher than national banks' requirements.
While Mr. Heasley said he doesn't expect the group's relationship with the commissioner to be affected by the conflict, Ms. Ghiglieri believes the fights over her authority will have a longer-lasting effect.
"The threat of a lawsuit did put a strain on our relationship," she said. "I think it's going to take a while for that to go away."