A8 THURSDAY. MAY 14, 1998 WASHINGTON THE SALINA JOURNAl t BANKING BILL T FARM BILL Banking bill passes by one vote Legislation could' bring under one roof banking, insurance, securities By Scrlpps Howard News Service WASHINGTON — Struggling to catch up with mega-mergers promising one-stop financial shopping, the House, by a one-vote margin, passed legislation Wednesday to break down Depres- .sipn-era firewalls that are supposed to separate banking, securities and insurance. The 214-213 vote for passage marked the first time in the 20- year effort to update the 65-year- old laws and their regulatory oversight that a financial services bill was approved by the House. But even before the narrow victory in the House, the future of the measure was far from assured: It's T LEGAL DRIVING AGE opposed by consumer groups and most of the banking industry, the Senate has taken a wait-and-see attitude, and the Clinton administration is threatening a veto. Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin warned the bill, as passed by the House "would substantially weaken the national banking system." But with megabanks valued at $700 billion or more already in the works, House Banking Chairman Jim Leach, R-Iowa, insisted it would be "unconscionable" for Congress not to act. The bill was blessed by the House Republican leadership as well as key Democrats led by Democratic Caucus Chairman Vic Fazio of California and John Dingell of Michigan, ranking member of the House Commerce Committee. Without updating the law, Dingell insisted, there would be other instances of "grotesquely improp- er practices" that led to civil charges that NationsBank employees deliberately misled investors — most of them elderly — into rolling over their federally insured bank savings into risky, uninsured bond accounts. Na- tionsBank was fined $7 million last week but admitted no wrongdoing in the settlement with regulators. But key Republicans opposed the bill: "It destroys the flexibility of the banking system," Reps. Bill McCollum of Florida and Spencer Bachus of Alabama wrote their colleagues. Rep. Richard Baker of Louisiana complained it worked to the advantage of the megabanks at the expense of small and mid- sized banks. The House tried taking up the modernization bill in March, only to have leaders pull the bill when it appeared certain to go down to defeat. Since then, however, the world of American finance has changed, starting with the announcement that Travelers Group and Citicorp would combine into a $700 billion global blockbuster with 100 million customers in 100 countries. Within days, NationsBank and BankAmerica agreed to form the first coast-to-coast bank, and First Chicago and Bane One opted to merge into a Midwest powerhouse. Those mergers and other possible combinations of brokerage houses, banks and insurers got the attention of Senate Banking Chairman Alfonse D'Amato, R-N.Y. Although financial modernization wasn't high on his agenda, D'Amato said, "Changes already occurring in the marketplace have created a new reality and require a legislative response to achieve fairness for all parties, consumers and companies alike." Savings plan would help farmers manage income By The Associated Press WASHINGTON — New IRA- type savings accounts would allow Kansas farmers to sock away their income in good years to help them through rocky times and dramatic price swings, under a bill proposed by farm-state lawmakers. The savings accounts would give producers "the same sort of income assurance so farm families don't continue to go from boom to bust in a matter of months," said Sen. Pat Roberts, R- Kan., a co-sponsor of the bill. The legislation runs counter'tc a plan by Agriculture Secretarj Dan Glickman to revisit the 199* farm law and expand goverrimenl assistance to producers. Projec tions are that 1998 will be a pool year for most farmers. The current low prices, howevJ er, present a good opportunity^ drum up enthusiasm for the sav ings accounts, said Rep. Kennj Hulshof, R-Mo., the main authoi of the House version, which has more than five dozen sponsors. Pressure mounts to raise driving age In spite of failed effort this year, state senator continues to study issue By The Associated Press WASHINGTON —Momentum . to raise the driving age in other states, coupled with the recent deaths of three 15-year-old Kansas girls, will pressure state lawmakers to pass restrictions next year, state Sen. Ben Vidrick- sen said Wednesday. The Salina, Kan., lawmaker and a Topeka teen-ager were in Washington with the American Automobile Association to spread the word that new drivers need more practice before being issued unrestricted licenses. Efforts to increase the driving age and require supervised driving experience failed this year in the Kansas Legislature — and in six other states. "We're playing Russian roulette with our teen-agers." Dave Greening father of 15-year-old car crash victim "We're playing Russian roulette with our teen-agers," Dave Greening, a Ripon, Wis., father whose 15-year-old son died in a crash last year, said at a news conference. "When we hand them the keys to the car, we're putting a bullet in the chamber and spinning it." Vidricksen, who as chairman of the Senate Transportation and Tourism Committee plans to study the issue this summer, said ( he will invite the parents of three' Blue Valley High School girls who died April 24 to testify at the Capitol. Jennifer DeFranco, Amanda Bush, and Alanna Winn were killed on the way to a Softball game when their convertible swerved into the path of an oncoming van. Two other girls — Ashley Lavender and Casey Heit, also 15 — were injured. Kansas' restricted licenses allow 15-year-olds to drive to and from work or school with only family or adults in the car. The age for unrestricted driving is 16. But younger teens often ignore the law. In 1996, the last year for which data is available, 6,300 teen-agers died on the nation's roads: 17 each day, 120 each week and 525 each month. More teens were killed in motor vehicle crashes over the past decade — 60,000 — than Americans died in the Vietnam War, AAA officials said. Alcohol is rarely a major factor in accidents involving teens, they said. Vidricksen originally proposed to raise the age for an unrestricted license to 17 and require 50 hours of supervised driving for restricted licenses, but opposition from Kansas Farm Bureau, parents and some law enforcement officers resulted in legislation so watered down the AAA and other backers withdrew support. CARROL HAMILTON I Roofing Company Since 1962 Free Estimates, All Work Guaranteed 11.800-864-4637 •785-452-9224 DON LOADER INTERIORS 112 North Santa Ft- • Downtown Salina PS (785)823-9156 • Mon. - Kri. 9um-5pm tc^ SHOE PRICE BREAKS! 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