Because of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, you're now more likely to bounce a check. 9/11 has been used to justify many things, but one of the more farfetched connections is to a piece of federal legislation called the Check Clearing for the 21st Century Act (a.k.a. Check 21). In the days after the disaster, check processing was bottled up by restrictions on air travel; this was used as the primary justification for Check 21, which gives banks the right to process electronic images of checks (instead of having to physically transport the actual checks you write). In practice, Check 21 means that you can no longer assume that a check will take a few days to clear -- making it much more likely for consumers to bounce checks, among many other problems. Meanwhile, banks have not been required to make checks you deposit available more quickly.

Alabama, however, is not taking this lying down. Bobby Denton (D-Muscle Shoals), Alabama's singing senator, has introduced a bill in the state legislature that would require banks to do just that -- make money from checks you deposit available just as fast as they take money out to cover checks you write. Denton's bill is supported by Alabama Watch, a consumer watchdog group.

Anybody know of similar efforts in other states?