Agency Heeds Barr’s Call for Regulatory Relief for Rural Counties

New process expands definition of “rural” areas

January 29, 2015

Washington, D.C. –Today, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) announced a rule to expand the definition of “rural” areas within its financial regulations, bowing to pressure from a bipartisan group of Members of Congress, led by Congressman Andy Barr (KY-6).

“I’m pleased that a legislative proposal initiated by Kentuckians spurred the Bureau to adopt these long-overdue regulatory relief measures, which will help residents of rural America access affordable credit at their community banks and credit unions,” said Congressman Barr.

“While this proposal expands the definition of ‘rural’ to include Bath County, I will continue to monitor this rulemaking to make sure it meaningfully solves the problem.  If necessary, I will reintroduce legislation to give other communities a means to challenge their designation, and to codify this rule in law.”

This regulatory change follows increased scrutiny from a bipartisan group of Members of Congress.  In 2013, Congressman Barr introduced the bipartisan Helping Expand Lending Practices (HELP) in Rural Communities Act after hearing from community bankers in Bath County, which was improperly designated as “non-rural” by the CFPB with no explanation or means to contest the decision.  This legislation would help remedy this situation by giving individuals an appeals process by which to contest the designation.  The HELP in Rural Communities Act passed the House of Representatives last year without opposition.