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Florida lawmaker introduces bill banning debit card fees in state

Jeff ClemensA Democrat in Florida’s House of Representatives is trying to make it illegal for big banks to charge Florida customers new monthly debit card fees.

Although skeptics say such a law could not be imposed because the United States has a long-standing dual banking system, Lake Worth Rep. Jeff Clemens (D) says his strategy will work, TampaBay.com reports.

Clemens introduced a bill that would prevent banks from imposing a dormancy fee or service fee on its debit card customers. His sights are set on banks like Bank of America and SunTrust, which have both recently announced higher debit card fees for their Florida customers.

"They sold us on the idea that we were going to move to a cashless society and waited until we got rid of our checkbooks and stopped carrying cash and sprung fees on us," Clemens said, according to TampaBay.com.

The banks argue that the new fees were necessary in order to recoup revenue lost to new federal regulations that reduced their ability to pay for services like fraud protection and rewards programs.

Clemens referred to the 2009 Cuomo vs. Clearing House Association U.S. Supreme Court case, which ruled that federal law did not preempt states from enforcing their own laws in cases against national banks.

Anthony DiMarco, a lobbyist for the Florida Bankers Association, disagrees.

State banks comply with state law and a few national regulations, DiMarco said, and national banks answer mostly to federal regulators like the FDIC. Big banks are allowed to charge fees under federal law, TampaBay.com reports.

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