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In Congress: Patent, housing reforms still front burner
WASHINGTON (4/22/14)--Congress is back in session on April 28. The Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to markup a new text of its patent reform bill early in the week, and the Senate Banking Committee still has April 29 on its calendar as the date for a markup of its housing finance reform bill.
 
The Senate Judiciary Committee's bill is the Patent Transparency and Improvements Act (S. 1720), which, in part, would aid credit unions and other businesses that have been targeted by patent "trolls," who manipulate the patent system for their own gain.
 
It has been widely reported that a committee vote on the Senate Banking Committee bill on housing finance reform could be delayed, and Credit Union National Association Senior Vice President for Legislative Affairs Ryan Donovan said Monday that delay could happen.
 
"A delay would not be a bad thing--it would just mean that the bill's sponsors are working to secure additional votes for the bill," Donovan said, adding, "The bill's passage is not in doubt.  What is in question is the number of votes it will get."
 
Donovan said CUNA submitted additional materials in support of the bill to the committee and its staff last week, and CUNA expects to see a new bill draft on April 28 or 29 in advance of the markup.

Reps. Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) and Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) earlier this year released the original 425-page draft bill, which addresses how to overhaul the housing finance market, as well as what to do with government-owned Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
 
In meetings with White House officials and Federal Housing Finance Agency Director Mel Watt, CUNA has encouraged policymakers to be mindful of the existing regulatory burdens of credit unions and other mortgage servicers as discussions on housing finance reform proceed. Legislators and other officials must proceed judiciously and not layer additional regulatory authority on top of existing regulatory regimes that address mortgage servicing, CUNA has said.
 
CUNA has also underscored on credit unions' behalf that a new system must ensure that the housing finance market remains accessible to credit unions and other smaller institutions and that structure must be in place to prohibit domination by the country's biggest banks.


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