MONTPELIER, Vt. (4/8/10)--Vermont's credit card bill, S. 138, made it through the state Senate Tuesday, with one change--to its title--but leaving intact several provisions by which merchants can limit the credit cards they accept. The bill is now named "An Act Relating to Unfair Business Practices of Credit Card Companies and Fraudulent Use of Scanning Devices and Re-encoders" and more appropriately reflects what the bill is now currently about, said Joe Bergeron, president of the Association of Vermont Credit Unions (AVCU). "The bill now goes to the House. We await announcement of which committee gets the assignment," Bergeron told News Now
. In the meantime, both bankers and credit unions have events in the State House today, "where S. 138 will no doubt be the primary focus of lobbying efforts," he said. "Bankers have a Hike the Hill, and AVCU is hosting an annually highly attended Legislator Appreciation Reception, preceded by a private meeting of credit union leaders with the Governor and a few key legislators (all individual)." The bill, which was amended earlier, would:
* Allow merchants to set minimum and maximum amounts for acceptance of debit and credit cards; * Forbid electronic payments system network processors from imposing penalties or requirements on the way merchants advertise, thus allowing merchants to add a surcharge for customers using a credit or debit card in the state; and * Require a state regulatory study, due Dec. 15, 2011, to determine the economic impact on banks, credit unions and consumers of prohibiting electronic networks from inhibiting merchants as to whose cards they can not accept.
The provisions are detrimental for credit unions, their cardholders and Vermont's economy, Bergeron has said (News Now
April 5 and April 2).