Emily Hofer

Federal Delegate's Report

Emily Hofer, Chief Financial Officer, Merchants State Bank in Freeman

Summer has certainly flown by for me.  After the July 4th holiday, summer seems to be done in the blink of an eye.  Football and volleyball seasons are now well underway for our local schools, and I have been enjoying the cooler nights after the hot days.

It was such a pleasure to gather with many of you at ICBSD’s Annual Retreat – “All-in for Community Banking” – in Deadwood in July.  Megan and Hannah did a great job of organizing the Retreat this year, after a year’s hiatus.  The format was similar to years past, and I enjoyed the change in location – with its more modern accommodations and variety of entertainment options.  The best part of the Retreat, as always, is networking with peers, colleagues, and friends in the industry.  I will take face-to-face meetings any day over virtual events!

I would also like to extend our thanks to Russell and Susie Laffitte for joining us from the great state of South Carolina.  Russell is currently serving as the ICBA Vice Chairman and has had a busy travel schedule since COVID restrictions have eased.  Like all of the Leadership Bankers at ICBA, Russell’s passion for Community Banking is steadfast and contagious.

Just like ICBSD’s Retreat theme of “All-in for Community Banking,” ICBA is always “All-in” for our industry as well.  In my last Federal Delegate’s Report, I touched briefly on some of ICBA’s key priorities at that time, including the “WAKE UP” Campaign on credit unions, the Association’s support of tax incentives for ag lenders, the preservation of tax cuts, the restriction of HMDA-like reporting on small businesses, and the evolution of cannabis banking.

These issues remain on ICBA’s radar.  However, there are a few legislative issues that have risen to the top.  Some of these issues are tied up in an over $1 trillion bi-partisan infrastructure bill and a reportedly more than $3.5 trillion Build Back Better budget reconciliation bill.  ICBA is specifically playing defense on a number of issues such as the removal of the military lending cap, the creation of postal banking, the retailers’ request to limit interchange fees, and the credit union industry’s rampage through acquisition of the banking industry.


Another issue that ICBA is highly focused on at this time is a proposal in the Build Back Better measure to require all financial institutions, regardless of size, to report gross deposit and withdrawal activity for all accounts – consumer and business – with a balance of $600 or greater.  I know we all know the compliance headaches that will come if this provision is enacted.  Due to the fact that this is a reporting item, not a tax increase, legislators will support this provision.  ICBA and other financial trade associations are fighting this provision.  However, it will take broad, grassroots action to get this provision stopped.  Please educate your customers about this bill.  It essentially mandates banks to hand over the bank statements of its customers without authorization.  It will likely drive more commerce underground and back to cash-basis.  It will also further bog down the IRS with information that it doesn’t have the capacity to handle or protect.  To help you educate your customers, ICBA has created a site with an informative video and links to customizable media information and customizable letters to legislators that you, your staff, and your customers may use to oppose this provision.  This information can be found at banklocally.org/privacy.  Please help spread this word as loudly and quickly as possible.

If all goes as planned, ICBA will hold its first in-person meetings in over a year in Scottsdale, AZ, in October.  I’m looking forward to travelling again, and I’m looking forward to representing all of you – the Community Bankers of South Dakota – at those meetings.  Plans are underway to hold the ICBA LIVE 2022 in beautiful San Francisco March 14-18.  I hope many of you will save that date!

As always, feel free to reach out to me with questions, comments, concerns, etc. regarding our industry or ICBA.  I can be reached at ehofer@msb-sd.com or 605-660-4790.