Today, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 1259, the Helping Expand Lending Practices (HELP) in Rural Communities Act introduced by Congressman Andy Barr (KY-6). The bill would provide individuals in rural areas the right to petition for the area to be properly reclassified as “rural” and relieve local community banks and credit unions from burdensome regulations that unfairly limit their ability to lend and help create jobs in their communities.
“This is a commonsense and narrowly focused bill to address a real problem imposed by Washington on rural America,” said Congressman Barr. “With many rural communities still struggling to comply with burdensome regulations intended for urban areas, I’m pleased the House has again passed this needed reform.”
The idea for this legislation stemmed from a letter from a constituent that alerted Congressman Barr that Washington-based bureaucrats at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) incorrectly claimed that Bath County, Kentucky should be considered “non-rural” for purposes of its lending rules.
The HELP Rural Communities Act was unanimously passed by the House of Representatives during the 113th Congress on May 6, 2014.
On January 29, 2015, the CFPB announced a rule to expand the definition of “rural” areas within its financial regulations to include Bath County, Kentucky. While this was a positive development, the expanded definition did not address the underlying concern, nor did it provide a means to contest the designation for other improperly labeled “non-rural” counties.