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Small biz reps to hike for MBL cap lift

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WASHINGTON (2/3/12)--Small business owners, small business trade groups and business think-tank representatives will join the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) and credit unions next week to press Capitol Hill-based legislators to approve a member business lending (MBL) cap increase for credit unions.

The Hill visits, which will take place on Feb. 7 and 8, are being coordinated and assisted by CUNA and selected state credit union leagues across the nation. A total of 75 small business representatives from 15 states are expected to visit their lawmakers during this small business hike.

The congressional visits are meant to show the link between small business needs for credit and credit unions' desire to help fill that need. "We want to foster an environment in which lawmakers hear and see more about this key issue for small business owners and credit unions," said CUNA President/CEO Bill Cheney.

Pending bills in both the U.S. House and Senate bills would lift the current 12.25% of assets cap to 27.5%. CUNA has estimated that lifting the MBL cap would inject $13 billion in extra funds into the economy in the first year after enactment, helping small businesses create 140,000 new jobs at no cost to taxpayers.

"We are hopeful that a vote to allow credit unions to help small businesses will occur soon--and that lawmakers will be armed with all of the facts when the votes come due," Cheney added.

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CUNA is also promoting this credit union/small business synergy in a series of ads that will run in Capitol Hill-focused media, including "The Daily Caller" website and The Hill, Politico and Roll Call newspapers, next week.

In a letter to Congress sent earlier this week, CUNA cited a survey by pro-business groups--The Small Business Majority, Main Street Alliance and the American Sustainable Business Council--which showed that 64% of small business owners say that the availability of credit is hindering their growth.

Ninety percent of small businesses surveyed said they support making it easier for community banks and credit unions to lend to small businesses. Approximately 525 credit unions are approaching the 12.25%-of-assets MBL cap, according to CUNA.  (See News Now Feb. 2 story, "Small biz backs more MBLs, CUNA reminds lawmakers.")

Heartland backs MBL bills in iHuffPoi

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WASHINGTON (2/3/12)--Legislators that are looking for new ways to fight burdensome government regulations "can--and should--start by looking at credit union lending," Eli Lehrer, vice president of the Chicago-based think tank The Heartland Institute, said in a Thursday Huffington Post editorial.

"Credit unions, democratically run, member oriented financial cooperatives, often extend credit to groups having a difficult time getting it from banks and are right now sitting on millions of dollars they could lend to job creators if only Congress would repeal the regulations that stop them from doing it," he said.

A pair of similar bills, Sen. Mark Udall's (D-Colo.) S. 509 and Rep. Ed Royce's (R-Calif.) H.R. 1418, would increase the credit union member business lending (MBL) cap from 12.25% of total assets to 27.5%. The two bills remain active in Congress and enjoy bipartisan support, with S. 509 listing 22 co-sponsors and H.R. 1418 listing 114 co-sponsors.

Increasing the MBL cap would help the still ailing economy, the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) has emphasized, by injecting $13 billion in extra funds into the economy in the first year after enactment, helping small businesses create 140,000 new jobs at no cost to taxpayers.

Lehrer noted that banks, who do not want the extra competition that increased credit union lending would bring, continue to stand in the way of an MBL cap increase. This constant opposition "preserves profits for banks, but it doesn't do much good for the country or the small businesses that everyone on both sides of the aisle claims to support," Lehrer said.

Small businesses will advocate for MBL cap increase legislation next week as they 'hike the hill' alongside credit union representatives in a special fly-in organized by CUNA.  (See related story: Small biz reps to 'hike' for MBL cap lift).   Meanwhile, CUNA's Legislative Affairs team will also be bringing Eli Lehrer's Huffington Post op-ed to the attention of key congressional offices.

For the full Huffington Post blog, use the resource link.

CUNA launches monthly compliance wrap up

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WASHINGTON (2/3/12)--The Credit Union National Association's (CUNA) compliance team Thursday launched the first edition of its new compliance tool for credit unions--a monthly summary of vital compliance issues--all drawn from CUNA's highly followed CompBlog.

The monthly updates will provide a snapshot of major compliance issues, effective dates, and key questions that have been addressed in the CompBlog.  They are intended to supplement CUNA's daily compliance blog postings.

CUNA Senior Vice President or Compliance Kathy Thompson explains the monthly compilation's creation this way: "So many people--including CEOs of smaller credit unions--continue to tell us that,

while they love the blog, they still miss the dearly departed Compliance Challenge that gave them a monthly overview of key developments."

Some months, Thompson said, the summary will start with a few compliance-related inquiries that senior management may want to ask staff. And to entice readers to continue to read the daily blog,

CUNA will be launching, via the blog, the 2012 "Compie Award" nominations--called by Thompson "the compliance world's answer to Hollywood's Oscars."

Both the daily blog and the monthly summary formats are intended to help readers quickly scan what's happening that may impact operations.

CUNA's compliance experts can always be reached at cucomply@cuna.com for compliance questions or comments on how they can better serve readers.

Inside Washington (02/02/2012)

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  • ALEXANDRIA, Va. (2/3/12)--The National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) board has revised its 2012 meeting schedule. The board meeting scheduled for Thursday, Dec. 13 will now occur Thursday, Dec. 6. The revised 2012 board meeting schedule is available online  ...
  • WASHINGTON (2/3/12)--The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Wednesday held a hearing to address President Barack Obama's recess appointment of Richard Cordray as director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau last month (American Banker Feb. 2). The president also appointed four commissioners to the National Labor Relations Board while the Senate was in a "pro forma" session. House Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) called the move "unprecedented." During testimony, Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) supported the popular Republican view that the Senate can only recess if the House provides permission. But Democrats said Senate Republicans were obstructing the confirmation process. In such cases, the president can exercise his judgment to make appointments, testified Michael Gerhart, a constitutional law professor at the University of North Carolina School of Law …
  • WASHINGTON (2/3/12)--The Obama administration's latest plan to help middle-class families refinance their homes would come with a cost of between $5 billion and $10 billion--paid for through a fee charged to the nation's largest banks (American Banker Feb. 2). Secretary Shaun Donovan of the Department of Housing and Urban Development told reporters at a press briefing at the White House those banks will pay the fee because they were largely responsible for the financial crisis. Republicans have called the fee a tax on big banks. More details on the refinancing plan will be available when the White House releases its fiscal 2013 budget in two weeks …
  • WASHINGTON (2/3/12)--The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) is scrapping a plan that would change the minimum fees paid Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac loans to a fee-for-service model. The FHFA faced industry wide opposition to the proposal. In an e-mailed statement, FHFA spokeswoman Corrine Russell said the agency received "useful input" on the proposal (American Banker Feb. 2). Servicing advisory firms have said that a fee-for-service plan would remove any financial stake servicers have in the compensation model. Most major servicers opposed any change, the Banker said. Critics of the current model maintain that because compensation is tied to performing loans, servicers have little incentive to invest in the human-resource intensive process of reforming delinquent loans …