Congressman Andy Barr (R-KY) today reintroduced the Helping Expand Lending Practices (HELP) in Rural Communities Act with Congressman Ruben Hinojosa (D-TX). 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.
“While the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has expanded their definition of ‘rural’ to include areas like Bath County, the process remains opaque, arbitrary, and not subject to appeal,” said Congressman Barr. “I am pleased to reintroduce this bipartisan bill along with Congressman Hinojosa which will help rural communities across America that are struggling with the one-size-fits-all regulations for which they lack the resources to comply.”
The idea for this legislation stemmed from a hearing in May 2013 where Congressman Barr learned that Washington-based bureaucrats at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) shockingly and 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.