The statement given in your question is not true. Savings and loan associations (also known as S&Ls) are definitely subject to federal regulations.
Savings and loan associations, it is true, are not as closely regulated as banks are. However, they are still subject to some regulation by federal agencies such as the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). Many of the regulations that apply to the savings and loan industry come out of the Savings and Loan Crisis of the 1980s.
So, while savings and loan associations are not regulated as heavily as banks, they are still subject to federal regulation.