BURLINGTON, Vt. (4/27/10)--Association of Vermont Credit Unions (AVCU) President Joe Bergeron was among the first to testify Wednesday in front of the Vermont House Commerce Committee regarding a controversial credit card acceptance bill. The bill, S. 138, would endanger how and where Vermont credit union members’ credit and debit cards are accepted, AVCU said. Bergeron and Department of Banking, Insurance, Securities and Healthcare Deputy Commissioner Tom Candon testified, along with the primary representative of the Electronic Payments Coalition (Newslines Express April 23). On Thursday, Vermont State Employees CU President/CEO Steve Post and New England FCU chief financial officer Sue Leonard also testified in favor of credit unions. They focused on the potentially detrimental effects of S.138 on their cardholders and credit union card programs. “In line with testimony provided by Candon and me [Wednesay], Post and Leonard referenced the negative effects of possible surcharging by merchants, negativity of minimums and maximums, and unreliability of card functionality if S.138 is passed,” Bergeron said in AVCU’s newsletter. “Also referenced were the burden card issuers bear resulting from data breaches occurring at merchants and processors, and resultant fraud.” Of special note was testimony by MasterCard’s Vice President of State Governmental Affairs Rich Santoro, whose participation Bergeron specifically requested. “Visa and MasterCard are the primary recipients of much of the opposition’s criticism and claims that network rules and interchange are restrictive, unfair and detrimental to small business,” Bergeron said. “Taking the witness chair was a bit of an unknown that ultimately seemed to work out favorably.” All parties emphasized that the bill’s verbiage would permit minimums and maximums on card purchases, and surcharging at different amounts on different types or brands of plastic, and perhaps differently by location. Although it was apparent at the start that legislators were confused by the interpretation that S. 138 would permit these practices by merchants, by the end of testimony there appeared to be agreement on the need for clarification, AVCU said. Bergeron said a vote could be expected on the matter today or Wednesday, depending on floor actions.