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Inside Washington (01/30/2008)

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* ALEXANDRIA, Va. (1/31/08)—The National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) has approved the first nationwide Trade, Industry or Profession (TIP) charter for the grocery and supermarket industry, saying yes to an application from $210 million-asset TruGrocer FCU, Boise, Idaho. The field of membership includes employees who work regularly in the grocery and supermarket industry, but does not include employees of such places as “super warehouse” stores, “free-standing” convenience stores, or pharmacies, whether or not attached to a grocery store. The NCUA amended its field of membership rules in 2003 to allow TIP charters ... * WASHINGTON (1/31/08)--Senate Democrats said they are committed to keeping conforming loan limits for government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) and Federal Housing Administration (FHA) reform provisions in the economic stimulus package passed Tuesday by the House (American Banker Jan. 29). Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.) and Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said the package must include the loan limits. Others, including Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) and Sen. Mel Martinez (R-Fla.), said they would oppose raising the loan limits without comprehensive GSE reform. Other senators are pushing for FHA reform, even though Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson indicated earlier this week that he wanted to scrap it. The FHA reform could be put in a second stimulus package, if needed, said Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio). Schumer and Sen. Robert Casey (D-Pa.) said they hoped to add $500 million to the package for foreclosure counseling, and Dodd also suggested adding $10 billion so local governments could resell foreclosed homes ... * WASHINGTON (1/31/08)--Reforms to improve insurance claim processing for wind and water-related hurricane damage were proposed in a report requested by House Financial Services Ranking Member Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.). The report also calls for Congress to give the Federal Emergency Management Agency the power to collect wind and flood damage claims from insurers so it can better assess the accuracy of flood payments on damaged properties. Some entities may have improperly shifted costs or charged higher reimbursement rates to the federal government, Bachus said. The report contains recommendations that will clarify the process, and its findings warrant discussion in the Financial Services Committee, he added ...

FTC merger fee increase

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WASHINGTON (1/31/07)—The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has announced that it is increasing fees for businesses, including credit unions, that are planning a merger or other business combination, but the fee will apply to few, if any, credit unions, according to the Credit Union National Association (CUNA). As of Feb. 28, the pre-merger filing fees will be as follows: for entities with assets between $63.1 million and $126.2, the fee is $45,000; for assets between $126.2 million and $630.8 million , the fee is $125,000, and for assets above $630.8 million, the fee is $280,000. However, most types of credit union assets are excluded from the asset threshold test. According to a written exchange between CUNA and the FTC in 2001 the following credit union assets do not count towards the asset threshold for the FTC fee: cash on hand (coin and currency); cash on deposit; cash equivalents; assets listed as "Investments" on NCUA 5300 call reports; first mortgage real estate loans or lines of credit; other real estate loans or lines of credit; and leases receivable. Credit union land, buildings, and other real estate are also excluded from the asset threshold to the extent provided by the FTC's rules codified at 16 C.F.R. sec. 802.2. "For the fee to apply to a natural person credit union, it would have to have over $63.1 million in non-exempt assets which are, generally speaking, credit cards, unsecured signature loans, and auto loans," said Michael Edwards, CUNA counsel for special projects. Bank and thrift holding companies are generally exempt from the FTC fee and reporting requirements. Section 309 of the Credit Union Regulatory Improvement Act of 2007 (CURIA, H.R. 1537) would extend this exemption to credit unions if it becomes law. Use the resource link below to read the CUNA-FTC exchange on the fee’s asset threshold in CUNA's e-guide on mergers.

NCUA announce 2008 small CU workshops

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ALEXANDRIA, Va. (1/31/07)-- The National Credit Union Administration's (NCUA’s) Office of Small Credit Union Initiatives Wednesday announced a series of credit union events including free training sessions to be held around the country. Those sessions are scheduled to address the following subjects:
* Updates from Regional management; * The future of NCUA 5300 call reports; * Common Bank Secrecy Act violations ; * How to evaluate third party relationships, and related due diligence topics; * Modifications to the NCUA’s CAMEL rating system; * Attracting and recruiting volunteers; and * Expanding credit union services through partnerships
“NCUA’s goal in hosting our free workshops is to convey useful information that helps answer questions and address relevant issues,” NCUA Chairman JoAnn Johnson said in a release announcing the workshops. “ I encourage credit unions to sign-up and actively participate in a local workshop. Each is designed to provide regulatory guidance and to promote open discussion of important initiatives that affect credit union operation and membership,” she added. The first event is scheduled for March 15 in Raleigh-Durham, N.C. Use the resource link below to see all 20 dates and locations. Credit unions can visit NCUA’s website to register and view the agenda and most current information available. The NCUA notes that dates and locations could be subject to change based on hotel availability.

Comments due March 31 on board fiduciary duties

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ALEXANDRIA, Va. (1/31/08)—Credit unions and others interested in commenting on possible changes to federal regulations defining a credit union board's fiduciary duties in the face of major decisions, such as mergers or conversions to mutual thrifts, must do so by March 31. The National Credit Union Administration (NCUA), at its open board meeting last week, agreed to seek comment on an advanced noticed of proposed rulemaking (ANPR), the focus of which the agency said is to protect members’ interests in transactions that involve fundamental changes in their ownership or in the structure of their credit union. The ANPR addresses six types of transactions: merger of a federally insured credit union (FICU) into another FICU; merger of such an institution into a privately insured credit union (PICU); conversion of a federally insured state-chartered credit union into a PICU; conversion of a FICU into a mutual savings bank (MSB) merger of a FICU into a financial institution other than a MSB; and conversion of a FICU into a financial institution other than a MSB. The transactions noted above are all legally permissible. However, the NCUA believes its current regulations may not adequately address the issues raised by the various forms of business deals The comment deadline was announced in a Federal Register document published Wednesday. Use the resource link below to access that document. The Credit Union National Association is drafting a credit union comment call, which will be posted soon on its Regulatory Advocacy Web site. Also, CUNA's Federal and Examinational and Supervisor Subcommittees will review the proposal and help develop a CUNA comment letter.