Celeste Embrey

Celeste Embrey
TBA General Counsel

Bench strength

With more than 230,000 bank employees across the state, we have the opportunity to not just tell our story, but also to amplify it in our communities ...””

As Texas bankers, we have a lot to be thankful for. Our communities are thriving, which means our customers and clients are too. We have positive stories to tell about the economic successes we are privileged to play a part in as bankers for Texas’ 30 million residents and close to 3.2 million businesses — small and large alike. 

With more than 230,000 bank employees across the state, we have the opportunity to not just tell our story, but also to amplify it in our communities so that the positive differences we’re helping to make across the state are known by the customers and clients we serve ... and the elected officials who serve us in Austin and Washington, D.C.

We had just this opportunity recently when TBA led a delegation of close to 100 Texans to Washington, D.C., as part of the American Bankers Association’s annual Washington Summit. Aside from Virginia, where traveling to D.C. is as easy as literally crossing a (very short) bridge, TBA proudly had the largest delegation of bankers at the Summit. Why is this important? The Washington Summit is our opportunity to show our elected officials and regulators that Texas bankers are tied to their communities and care so much about this industry and its future that they’re willing to sacrifice valuable time out of their banks and away from their families to come tell the story of Texas banking in Washington.

TBA’s delegation of bankers came from all corners of the state, and because of the diverse nature of roles they fill at their institutions, they were able to present legislators with real-world examples of what it is like to be Main Street bankers. 

From CEOs to senior lenders to compliance officers and financial literacy advocates, bankers participating were able to thank members of the Texas delegation for their support of S.J. Res. 32, a bipartisan measure that would have nullified the CFPB’s onerous Sec. 1071 Final Rule had it not been vetoed by President Biden. 

Bankers were also able to urge their legislators to cosponsor the ACRE Act, legislation that would enable ag lenders to compete on a level playing field with farm credit lenders by exempting from taxation the interest earned on ag real estate loans made by banks, just as it is exempt for farm credit lenders. Exempting this income from taxation will enable banks to pass their savings on to their ag borrowers, who will benefit from true competition in the lending marketplace.

And, bankers at every stage of their careers were able to share first-hand how the 5,000 pages of regulations published in 2023 have impacted their abilities to serve their customers and clients. These were not theoretical discussions — these were actual examples from actual bankers who are struggling to continue to provide the same products and services they’ve provided for years because regulators in Washington believe they know better than Main Street bankers how to serve their communities. Again, it’s important that we had existing bank leadership and future bank leadership in these meetings because we showed the strength of our numbers — and previewed for our legislators and their staff the bright future that lies ahead for the Texas banking industry.

Speaking of bench strength, I am delighted to announce that the TBA Legal Department has added to our bench strength with the addition of Kate Decker, TBA’s new deputy general counsel. 

Having worked in the Legislative Branch as legal counsel to Dan Patrick when he was in the Texas Senate and in the Executive Branch for former Railroad Commissioner Barry Smitherman, Kate brings a wealth of experience in and around the Texas Capitol to TBA. She holds her law degree from Texas Tech University School of Law and her undergraduate degree from Texas A&M.

I’m looking forward to introducing Kate to each of you in the very near future. If you’d like to welcome her in advance, please reach out to [email protected]

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