Government Politics Religion

Tennessee Bill Sparks Fury: Protecting You from Banking Discrimination

A Tennessee bill aimed at preventing banks from discriminating against individuals based on their political or religious views has progressed in the state House. The Republican-backed bill, known as HB2100, secured a 5-1 vote in the House’s Subcommittee on Banking and Consumer Affairs, following partisan lines. Representative Jason Zachary (R-Knoxville), the bill’s sponsor, expressed concern over the perceived trend of freezing bank accounts tied to political or religious beliefs. He emphasized the need to halt this practice in Tennessee, asserting that citizens should freely express their convictions without fear of being denied financial services.

The proposed legislation seeks to prohibit financial institutions from denying or canceling services based on an individual’s speech, opinions, affiliations, or religious beliefs. It aims to amend Tennessee’s consumer protection laws without affecting existing quantitative considerations by banks. The bill’s initial version included insurance companies, but amendments have removed those provisions. Rep. Zachary mentioned ongoing cases in the state attorney general’s office involving customers facing banking restrictions.

HB2100 received additional testimony from Chris Lee of the National Shooting Sports Foundation and FirstBank CEO Chris Holmes. Lee supported the bill, citing instances where financial institutions targeted the firearm industry. He referred to Citigroup’s 2018 gun policies, which restricted collaboration with partners selling firearms to individuals under 21 or dealing in high-capacity magazines and bump stocks. Holmes, opposing the bill, expressed concerns about potential burdensome regulations and suggested that banks might be forced to engage with businesses involved in pornography or marijuana. Zachary clarified that the bill only applies to banks with assets of $100 billion or more, allowing banks to maintain policies against certain entities.

Supported by organizations like the Alliance Defending Freedom and the National Committee for Religious Freedom, the bill now moves to the House Commerce Committee for further consideration. The proposal aligns with broader national concerns about financial institutions allegedly targeting conservatives, and it emerges as lawmakers investigate potential pressure on banks to scrutinize financial transactions of individuals associated with former President Donald Trump and patrons of outdoor stores like Cabela’s and Bass Pro Shops.

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