WASHINGTON (10/3/08)—Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has declared that the Senate will return for a lame duck session in November, which would give credit unions one more shot at regulatory improvements in 2008. Reid has said the Senate will return for several days during the week of Nov. 17. John Magill, senior vice president of legislative affairs for the Credit Union National Association (CUNA), said that development is good for credit unions. “The Senate is where CUBTRRA now sits,” Magill said, referring to the Credit Union, Bank and Thrift Regulatory Relief Act (H.R. 6312), approved by voice vote in the House on June 24. “A so-called lame duck session in the Senate, after the federal elections, will give us another opportunity—another shot at getting the regulatory improvements through the Senate this year.” For all financial institutions, CUBTRRA would provide exceptions to annual privacy notice requirements under the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act for institutions that don’t share information with affiliates or that have not changed their privacy policies. For credit unions, the bill:
* Permits federally chartered credit unions (FCUs) to have up to 10% of aggregate assets in investment-grade securities; * Raises to 3% from 1% of assets the limit on an FCU’s total investment in or loans to a credit union service organization (CUSO); * Excludes member business loans (MBLs) to non-profit religious groups from the credit union MBL cap; * Permits the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) to set longer maturities for certain FCU loans; * Allows the NCUA greater flexibility in adjusting the FCU usury ceiling; * Permits the NCUA to set rules for continued service to previous groups by credit unions converting voluntarily to a community charter; * Permits the NCUA to allow FCUs of any charter type to serve underserved areas, while modifying the definition of an underserved area; * Codifies FCUs’ ability to provide short-term loans as an alternative to payday loans to anyone within their fields of membership; * Revises credit union governance provisions; and * Excludes MBLs provided in underserved areas from the MBL cap.
"Clearly there is precious little legislative time left on the 2008 clock. However, CUNA continues to work in Congress at every opportunity to advance legislation to provide regulatory relief for credit unions,” Magill said.