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CUNA Works All Fronts For CU Reg Relief
WASHINGTON (3/14/13)--The Credit Union National Association works every day to fight credit unions' regulatory burden on three fronts--legislative, regulatory and political, CUNA Executive Vice President of Government Affairs John Magill notes.

"CUNA is on Capitol Hill to talk about regulatory burden every single day, meeting with legislators and members of their staff, whether the discussion is addressing pending legislation or looking for future avenues of relief," Magill adds.

These efforts are meant to keep the issue of regulatory relief for credit unions in the forefront of the minds of lawmakers and regulators and have meant results for credit unions in recent months: CUNA-backed legislation that would reduce the frequency of costly member privacy notices passed the U.S. House this week.

That followed closely on the heels of last year's bill that revised Regulation E to require that ATM fee disclosures only need to be presented on an ATM's screen. That bill was signed into law in December. CUNA's current priorities remain protecting the credit union tax status and supporting legislative priorities such as increasing the member business lending cap and providing greater access to supplemental capital to credit unions.

On the regulatory front, CUNA is continually communicating with the range of agencies that affect credit unions, including the National Credit Union Administration, to urge regulatory relief. CUNA CEO Bill Cheney met personally with NCUA Chairman Debbie Matz as recently as Tuesday.

One recent action that reflects CUNA's work is the agency's approval of a regulation that increases the asset-size threshold that defines a "small" credit union, notes CUNA Deputy General Counsel Mary Dunn. CUNA-recommended changes were included in the NCUA's final regulation. CUNA also advocated for an expanded definition of "rural district" as it applies to field of membership, which NCUA approved last month, as well as authority for federal credit unions to purchase Treasury Inflation Protection Securities. CUNA is strongly encouraging the agency to take other steps to address examination and regulatory burden issues.

CUNA also is working proactively to urge the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to focus more attention on exemption of credit unions and on regulating entities in the financial marketplace that engage in abusive practices, such as payday lenders, that have been unregulated or under-regulated to date. CUNA has also urged the agency to guard against overburdening credit unions with unnecessary rules, and has called on the CFPB to bring its awareness of the credit union difference into play as it develops any new rules.

These types of legislative and regulatory improvements "are paramount if credit unions want to be able to offer much-needed services to more members, and we are broadening our focus so we can incorporate everyone into this effort--CUNA, the state credit union leagues, small business advocates, and consumers," Magill says.

CUNA research shows credit union leaders are becoming more receptive to involving their members in political affairs, noting that 52% of board members that responded to a recent CUNA survey said they "strongly support" asking their credit union's members to oppose anti-credit union issues. "We need our members to be aware of what credit unions are doing for them and how they can be a part of that," CUNA Senior Vice President of Political Affairs Richard Gose notes.

Increased grassroots advocacy will help credit unions reach all 535 members of Congress, and Gose reiterated the CUNA/credit union league Plan to Win has an outline for how best to reach all members of Congress: From committee leadership to first-time legislators.

"We may not turn them all into credit union champions, but we will be able to move them toward a higher level of credit union understanding and support," he said.

CUNA and leagues' thrust for regulatory relief is also central to achieving the new strategic vision for the credit union system that CUNA's Cheney outlined at the 2013 Governmental Affairs Conference, a vision where "Americans choose credit unions as their best financial partner."

Realizing this vision, he explained, will require that the credit union system "unite for good" to remove regulatory and legislative barriers, raise consumer awareness of credit unions, and foster movement-wide service excellence.

For more on CUNA's vision for the credit union system, use the resource link.
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