Towards the Future

By Colin Barrett, President/CEO, Tennessee Bankers Association

“What if there is no tomorrow? There wasn’t one today.” No movie encapsulates the last few months more than Groundhog Day, the Bill Murray classic where he wakes up to the same day each morning. Unless you kept track on your calendar, my guess is that it is difficult for many of us to differentiate between late March and early June. As we worked together as an industry on everything from PPP to bank operations, many days rolled into the next as we tackled problems as they arose. 

Living in the present, as successfully as we have the past few months, is not how bankers typically operate. Our industry is one that is constantly focused on the future—approving loans to help customers realize their dreams, building branches to facilitate growth, and adopting new products in response to the rapidly changing financial services landscape.

As we continue to work through PPP and the virus, we must also now focus on the future, specifically the election on November 3. While there will be plenty of coverage in the race between Donald Trump and Joe Biden, the impact of other elections, including Tennessee’s Congressional delegation and state legislature, will dictate the laws that will govern our industry. 

After a heated primary battle, the Tennessee U.S. Senate race is set between Republican Bill Hagerty and Democrat Marquita Bradshaw. Hagerty, the former Ambassador to Japan, ECD Commissioner and Pinnacle director, will have the upper hand in a state that has voted Republican in every statewide election since 2006. While ECD Commissioner, Hagerty joined TBA twice for our annual Washington Conference in D.C. and has a firm grasp on issues surrounding the banking industry. And while many eyes were on the contentious and heavily funded Republican primary, the greatest upset was by Bradshaw who captured the Democratic nomination having raised only $8,420. Bradshaw defeated frontrunner James Mackler who was endorsed by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and raised $2.1 million. The grassroots support garnered by Bradshaw is impressive at a time when money plays such an important role in politics.

In the U.S. House, the Tennessee delegation is expected to stay the same with the exception of the open seat in the 1st Congressional district. Diana Harshbarger won that 16-candidate GOP primary with only 19% of the vote, just ahead of Bill Jenkins’ primary victory in the same district with 18% of the vote in 1996.

In the state legislature there were a few primary upsets, but the makeup of the legislature will stay largely the same after the November election. With both Lt. Governor Randy McNally and Speaker of the House Cameron Sexton returning, as well as leadership of both parties likely to return, the General Assembly will see stability, a change from the past several years.

While this year’s elections have largely taken a backseat to the virus, the impact has never been greater. In Washington, paying for the fiscal stimulus will be a major issue, and one that could be partially subsidized with credit unions paying their share of taxes. Among other top priorities will be making sure that banks, the economic first responders, can move past PPP and aid the country’s financial recovery. In Nashville, our goal is to continue our successful track record of working with the General Assembly as issues, from mandatory forbearance to homestead exemption, are possibly brought under the guise of economic recovery.

However, for our industry to continue to be successful, we need your engagement. Support our government relations efforts by touching base with our team about delivering a BankPac contribution in your district. Connect with your legislators, both state and federal, to make them aware of the role you have played in supporting your communities.

Banks have stepped up to provide a lifeline to our small businesses and country. Let’s flex that political muscle by engaging with our state and federal officials as we prepare for November 3.

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