UPDATED: Call for comments on revising CRA rules begins (for 75 days)

The clock on comments about proposed, new rules on implementing the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) began Wednesday, with the plan published in the Federal Register. Comments will be taken for 75 days (until Nov. 19).

According to an advance notice of proposal rulemaking (ANPR) filed by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), the goal of the notice is to gather more input from the public about revising the regulations (which implement anti-redlining laws). Such revisions, OCC argues, would encourage local and “nationwide” community and economic development “by encouraging banks to lend more to LMI [low- to moderate-income] areas, small businesses and other communities in need of financial services.”

In the notice, the agency said it seeks comments on how to revise the regulations to “bring greater clarity, consistency, and certainty to the evaluation process, as well as to provide flexibility to accommodate banks with different business strategies.”

When the OCC announced its effort Aug. 28, it stated in a release that ANPR seeks comments on such areas as:

  • increasing lending and services to people and in areas that need it most, including in low- to moderate-income (LMI) areas;
  • clarifying and expanding the types of activities eligible for CRA consideration;
  • revisiting how assessment areas are defined and used;
  • establishing metric-based thresholds for CRA ratings;
  • making bank CRA performance more transparent;
  • improving the timeliness of regulatory decisions related to CRA; and
  • reducing the cost and burden related to evaluating performance under the CRA.

The agency asserted in its release that public comment called for CRA reform. But much of the feedback cited was gathered over the last 19 months.

The OCC cited feedback gathered by the Treasury Department in 2017 and 2018 and Treasury recommendations published in April of this year. Those recommendations called for regulations that would “better align CRA activity with the needs of the communities that banks serve, while being conducted in a manner consistent with a bank’s safety and soundness,” according to a release.

The regulator of national banks and federal savings associations also cited feedback gathered by federal banking agencies in their decennial review of regulations under the Economic Growth and Regulatory Paperwork Reduction Act (EGRPRA) process.

Reforming the Community Reinvestment Act Regulatory Framework