Consensus-minded senators forged a deal with commonsense, targeted changes that will allow banks to better serve their customers and communities without compromising safety and soundness.

Amid all the political noise coming out of Washington, something quite unusual happened in the Senate that Missourians need to know.

A bipartisan group of 24 senators, including Senators Claire McCaskill and Roy Blunt, sponsored legislation that would make the first substantial reforms to the nation’s financial system since 2010. The Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief and Consumer Protection Act (S. 2155) promises to spur economic growth and job creation in Missouri and U.S.

Consensus-minded senators forged a deal with commonsense, targeted changes that will allow banks to better serve their customers and communities without compromising safety and soundness. This bipartisan bill will give more creditworthy borrowers the chance to get mortgages and more small businesses the loans they need to expand and hire more workers.

The good news is so many Democrats and Republicans support this bill that it stands an excellent chance of passing the Senate. It’s already cleared the Banking Committee on a strong, bipartisan vote, which bodes well for success in the full Senate. If that happens, it will need to be reconciled with similar proposals in the House, but the prospects for this legislation eventually becoming law are good.

Why did Senators McCaskill and Blunt support these important changes? They listened to bankers across the state who wrote, called, e-mailed and visited them to voice their concerns over the drastic increase in regulations imposed on all banks since the financial collapse of 2007.

This past September I had the opportunity to visit Washington DC with 47 other Missouri bankers to share our views on community banking issues. Our Missouri Senators were open to the concerns from bankers who cater to small- and medium-sized businesses and entrepreneurs – those often unable to get credit from megabanks that operate outside of our communities. Since 2007, the number of Missouri-based banks has declined from 331 to 266 (FDIC data), a 21.5 percent drop as 65 banks have merged with other institutions. This trend is frightening.

Locally, my family’s bank, Ralls County State Bank (RCSBank) and now Saints Avenue Bank, felt the pressures of the “one-size-fits-all” regulatory burdens. With a determination to remain independent, we partnered with like-minded investors and have been successful in modernizing our products and services promising a prosperous future for our customers. Yet too many small institutions are not able to carry the costs related to increasing regulatory requirements and simply choose to sell.

With bipartisan bills such as S. 2155, the future of community banking looks a little brighter. Please join me in supporting this bill and applauding Senators McCaskill and Blunt for their work in rolling back unwarranted regulation that is reducing credit and promoting industry consolidation.

Anne Behrens Vieira is the Senior Vice President of Saints Avenue Bank in New London.