WASHINGTON (6/4/08, UPDATED 12:00 p.m. ET)-—Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe, both Maine Republicans, have signed on in support of the Senate bill (S. 2957) intended to modernize the regulatory structure for credit unions and provide more choices in services for their member-owners.
That bill, the Credit Union Regulatory Improvements Act (CURIA), was introduced in April by Sen. Joseph Lieberman (ID-Conn.). A House version of the regulatory improvements package (H.R. 1537) carries the names of 149 official backers. Collins and Snowe join Rep. Bernard Sanders (I-Vt.) as co-sponsors of the bill. Sanders penned his name to the bill on May 14. Collins called the legislation “an opportunity for credit unions to better serve the thousands of small business owners in Maine and the millions across the country, as well as provide affordable financial services to more low-income consumers.” “I understand the economic benefit that credit unions provide to communities and consumers, and, during these difficult economic times, the ability of credit unions to offer additional services and operate more efficiently is more important than ever,” Collins said in a statement noting her support. Maine’s Snowe said, “Maine credit unions play an essential role in our state’s economy. Increasing credit unions’ ability to make member business loans will increase small firms’ access to capital and help to stimulate local economies throughout Maine and the country. “As the ranking member of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, I know first-hand that Maine’s credit unions are ideally positioned to help expand Maine’s economy, drive economic development, and create jobs.” Credit Union National Association (CUNA) President/CEO Dan Mica today said, "On behalf of credit unions across the nation, our thanks to Sens. Snowe and Collins for their support of credit unions in co-sponsoring CURIA.” He added, “And kudos to the Maine League and Maine credit unions for working so effectively with their senators. It is appropriate for credit unions across the country to now express their thanks, in e-mails and letters, to the two Maine senators for their solid support for our legislation – and our future." In early May, CUNA contacted each member of 110th U.S. Senate to urge support of S. 2957. CUNA’s Mica wrote that by co-sponsoring CURIA, lawmakers are "helping credit unions continue their mission of serving working families, making needed services available to lower-income or underserved consumers, and helping promote economic growth and well being in our nation's communities." Beyond that, Mica noted, CURIA will also improve the quality of services to credit union members by updating or removing other burdensome regulations. The letter included an attachment with specific information about important reforms within CURIA. In part, CURIA proposes to:
* Modernize credit union capital standards to permit more efficient capital management while allowing more earnings to be returned to members in lower costs and expanded services; * Expand the ability of credit unions to make loans to finance their members' local small businesses; and * Permit more credit unions to offer needed services in lower income communities that are not adequately served by other depository institutions.
In addition to the Small Business Administration Committee, Snowe’s committee assignments include Finance, which addresses issues relating to taxes, health care, trade and Social Security. Collins is ranking member and former chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, which has jurisdiction over the Department of Homeland Security and is the Senate’s chief oversight committee. Maine CU League President John Murphy thanked the senators for their leadership roles in becoming early co-sponsors of CURIA. “Sens. Collins and Snowe have a long history of supporting credit unions and consumers, and this legislation is about helping credit unions help consumers. Both senators are well-respected by their colleagues regardless of party affiliation and having them as early co-sponsors provides this legislation with a solid foundation to move forward and gain additional co-sponsors.