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Maine league to testify Tues. on state interchange bill
PORTLAND, Maine (4/4/11)--The Maine Credit Union League will testify Tuesday at a hearing on a state interchange bill. Last week, L.D. 1251--An Act to Prevent Credit Card Company Unfair Trade Practices was printed and introduced in the Maine Legislature, said the league (Weekly Update April 1). The bill was then referred to the Legislature’s Insurance and Financial Services Committee. Sponsored by State Sen. Richard Rosen (R-31), it would prohibit electronic payment systems from imposing certain restrictions on merchants related to the acceptance of credit cards, charge cards, debit cards or other stored-value cards as payment for goods and services. The league said it is “strongly” opposed to the bill because of the impact it would have on both credit unions and consumers. The committee is holding a public hearing on the bill Tuesday, and the league has been preparing testimony for it. Other states with pending or approved interchange legislation, according to the Credit Union National Association’s State Governmental Affairs Update, include:
* Rhode Island’s HB 5467 and SB 319, which will allow merchants to discriminate against certain cards and will give merchants the authority to set pricing; * Vermont’s bill (2010), which contains similar language to the bills in Maine and Rhode Island; * Oklahoma’s HR 1014, which will stop or delay the implementation of Section 1075 of the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act so statutory changes can be made to ensure institutions with less than $10 billion in assets are exempted without consequences so as not to result in increased fees on consumers at exempted institutions. The bill was recently passed by the Oklahoma House; and * Oregon’s SJM 18, which was introduced in March. It urges Congress to uphold small-business and consumer protections contained in the Durbin Amendment and to reject calls to overturn interchange reforms.
The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) opposes the cap on interchange fees and has told federal lawmakers that such action would harm consumers by driving up costs of debit cards, limiting consumer options, and harming competition and technological innovation. Interchange fees allow business costs, including the risk of consumer nonpayment, to be shared by the payments participants, CUNA said.

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