Archive Links

Consumer Archive
CU System Archive
Market Archive
Products Archive
Washington Archive

Washington Archive

Washington

Watch CU hearing Thursday live on the web

 Permanent link
WASHINGTON (3/6/08)--Today's hearing on the need for credit union regulatory relief and improvement in the House Financial Services Committee will be streamed on the Web, live, and available for all to see at no charge. The committee hearing, chaired by Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) is scheduled for 10 a.m. EST Thursday. According to the committee’s announcement, the hearing will “provide a comprehensive examination of the need for regulatory relief among credit unions, including the Credit Union Regulatory Improvements Act, as well as many other issues within the industry.” To view the hearing on the web tomorrow, add the link to the “favorites” folder in your web browser: http://www.house.gov/apps/list/hearing/financialsvcs_dem/hr030608.shtml (see Resource Link). On Thursday, click on the link, then click on the box that states “Click here to watch live broadcast of this hearing,” and follow the brief instructions that result.

Inside Washington (03/05/2008)

 Permanent link
* WASHINGTON (3/6/08)—House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass.) is pushing a draft bill that would protect servicers from lawsuits if they choose to modify a borrower’s mortgage to prevent foreclosure. The protection would be applicable to loan workouts for up to five years unless the borrowers refinances or sells. The borrower would not be subject to other fees or points … * WASHINGTON (3/6/08)—Regulators signaled that they could be open to a Democratic contingency plan to help with the housing crisis, but could not confirm whether they will actually need it (American Banker March 5). Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Chairman Sheila Bair recognized that the industry should be open to all options, but warned that a government intervention could risk a moral hazard. Comptroller of the Currency John Dugan disagreed, stating that the government may not need to intervene. Federal Reserve Board Vice Chairman Donald Kohn and Office of Thrift Supervision Director John Reich said adding onto existing programs would be better than making new ones … * WASHINGTON (3/6/08)—Interagency guidelines for remote deposit service could be released by federal regulators in a few months, triggering concern from bankers who worry that the oversight could create a chilling effect on the technology that has helped many community financial institutions bring in customers outside of their local areas (American Banker March 5). A survey conducted by the American Bankers Association (ABA) Banking Journal indicated that 37.5% provide remote deposit. ABA’s Douglas Johnson, who is vice president of risk management policy, said it’s uncertain that the guidance would slow remote deposit growth and said financial institutions should be able to live with the guidance … * WASHINGTON (3/6/08)—U.S. Treasury Assistant for Economic Policy Phillip Swagel will hold a media briefing today on the state of the U.S. economy. The event is open to the media …

CURIA bill will get Senate version

 Permanent link
Click for slide show (CLICK TO VIEW SLIDESHOW) CUNA President/CEO Dan Mica (left) and more than 4,000 credit union attendees exalt U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) after the senator said she and U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) would introduce a Senate bill identical to the Credit Union Regulatory Improvements Act (H.R. 1537), currently making its way through the House. The announcement came during Wednesday’s GAC general session in Washington, D.C. “Credit unions reach people where they are and get them to where they need to be,” said Landrieu. “Sen. Lieberman and I will do the best we can to move this bill in Congress on your behalf” and on behalf of the people credit unions serve, she concluded. (Photo provided by CUNA)
WASHINGTON (3/6/08)--Credit union attendees of the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) Governmental Affairs Conference responded with a raucous standing ovation yesterday to Senator Mary Landrieu’s (D-La.) news that she will introduce a Senate version of the Credit Union Regulatory Improvements Act. Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) will co-sponsor the credit union bill, which is identical to the House bill, CURIA, H.R. 1537. CUNA President/CEO Dan Mica praised the action. The bill could be introduced as early as today. “Our sincere thanks to Sen. Mary Landrieu for introducing credit union regulatory improvement legislation in the Senate. Our gratitude also to Sen. Joe Lieberman for co-sponsoring,” said the CUNA leader. “This is a significant development for credit unions, as this bill is identical to a measure in the House--which has earned the support of 145 members, and continues to add co-sponsors,” said Mica. Mica said he looks forward to working with Landrieu, Lieberman and other senators in “building similar backing for this bill in the Senate in the weeks to come.”

CU reps meet with Hill leaders

 Permanent link
Click for slide show House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) spoke with credit union representatives in her office yesterday during credit union visits to Capitol Hill. The group told Pelosi about the new Senate version of the Credit Union Regulatory Improvements Act, which is expected to be identical to the House version (H.R. 1537). The California delegation later held a reception at Credit Union House for House CURIA co-sponsor Ed Royce (R-Calif.). From left: Pelosi; Lynn Athens, president/CEO, Spectrum FCU, San Francisco; Annie Oliveto, board member, United Health CU, Burlingame; California Credit Union League President/CEO Bill Cheney; CUNA President/CEO Dan Mica; Patsy Van Ouwerkerk, president/CEO, Travis CU, Vacavill; and Dykstra Diana, president/CEO, San Francisco Fire CU. (Photo provided by CUNA)
WASHINGTON (3/6/08)--Credit union representatives from all over the country amassed to hike Capitol Hill this week as a part of the Credit Union National Association’s Governmental Affairs Conference in Washington, D.C., which attracted 4,500 attendees. At least 18 state leagues had scheduled visits with their state legislators. Among state leagues represented during the hill visits was the California and Nevada Credit Union League, which met with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.) at the U.S. Capitol Wednesday afternoon. Credit union representatives from the league encouraged Reid and Ensign to support a version of the Credit Union Regulatory Improvements Act, which Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) announced Wednesday she would introduce in the Senate. Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) will co-sponsor. Referencing CURIA, Ensign noted the difficulty of passing new legislation in the upcoming year to due the tight political landscape of a presidential election year, but noted that he’d look at the bill. “It’s not impossible,” he said, though he cautioned that bankers are “still powerful on Capitol Hill.”
Click for slide show U.S. Sen. John Ensign (R-Nevada), left, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) speak with Nevada credit union representatives Wednesday in the Lyndon Baines Johnson Room of the U.S. Capitol. (Photo provided by CUNA)
Both also confirmed their concerns with the current economy, including the housing crisis. “I know credit unions are feeling the credit crunch,” Reid said, recognizing that credit unions have helped many people. He also noted the high rate of foreclosures in California. Bill Cheney, president of the California and Nevada league, emphasized to Reid and Ensign that while credit unions didn’t create the housing crisis, they’d like to be part of the solution. Representatives from the Wisconsin Credit Union League and Wisconsin credit unions also met with Elissa Levin, the legislative aide of Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.). Baldwin is one of 145 CURIA supporters in the House and a long-term credit union supporter. Paul Kundert, president/CEO of UW CU, Madison, asked that Baldwin encourage more of her colleagues to sign on to CURIA. He also made his case in support of a provision to create a risk-based capital system for credit unions and another to allow more member business lending. He said the capital reform plan would free up resources that credit unions could use to better serve their communities. He also noted that credit unions, with a 12.25% of assets cap, are very restricted in the number and amount of small business loans they can offer members, which also can restrict credit union service to their communities. CURIA proposed to increase the limit to 20% of assets. “Our ability to provide more loans is a way to kick start the economy,” added Brett Thompson, president of the Wisconsin CU League.

Johnson says transparency is cornerstone of tenure

 Permanent link
Washington (3/6/08)—Addressing her seventh and perhaps final Governmental Affairs Conference Wednesday, National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) JoAnn Johnson said the word “transparency” captures the spirit of her six years of work as federal regulator. “Transparency means to let the sunshine in,” where credit union members’ rights are at stake, she told the audience at the Credit Union National Association conference here. Transparency is the “best vehicle” to assure members have necessary information to make informed decisions about their ownership rights, she said. Johnson reiterated her position that her agency is not in the business of “dictating management decisions for credit unions,” but rather “to ensure decisions are made with members’ best interests at heart.” The NCUA chairman, whose term ended in August but who has pledged to stay, if possible, until her successor is in place, encouraged credit unions to comment on a recent advance notice of a proposed rulemaking (ANPR) on the accuracy of communication to members, integrity of member voting and fiduciary obligation of senior executives. She said she considers that ANPR issued in January to be perhaps the most important issued during her tenure. It considers amending agency rules to more clearly define a credit union board's fiduciary duties in the face of major decisions, such as mergers or conversions to mutual thrifts. The NCUA announced last week it has extended the comment period to April 30 from March 31 as it considers amending its rules on credit union board's fiduciary duties. “Please give the ANPR your thoughtful consideration and let us hear from you on this proposal regarding mergers, credit union charter conversions and insurance termination transactions. “While the transparency issue can be complex, a member-centric answer is deceptively simple and one the credit union industry should be eager to embrace,” Johnson said. The White House in December nominated Michael E. Fryzel, an Illinois real estate lawyer and former director of the state's Department of Financial Institutions, to succeed Chairman Johnson on the NCUA board. However, his name is among the many delayed appointment nominees awaiting confirmation action from the Senate. Early in February, President George W. Bush called on the Senate to start immediate work on its confirmation process for a long list of pending nominations, including Fryzel and three nominees to the Federal Reserve Board.

Rep. Kanjorski Keep working for CURIA

 Permanent link
Click for slide show U.S. Rep. Paul Kanjorski (D-Pa.) encouraged credit unions to keeping pushing for passage of the Credit Union Regulatory Improvements Act (CURIA, H.R. 1537). A new bill he and Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.) introduced this week is not meant to supplant the more comprehensive package, which is CURIA, he said. CURIA currently has 145 official House supporters. (Photo provided by CUNA)
WASHINGTON (3/6/08)—Rep. Paul Kanjorski (D-Pa.) encouraged credit unions to keeping pushing for passage of the Credit Union Regulatory Improvements Act (CURIA, H.R. 1537). A new bill he and Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.) introduced this week is not meant to supplant the more comprehensive package, which is CURIA, he said. “My impression is there are a lot of House members up there just waiting to be asked” to support HR 1537, he said at the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC), at which more than 4,500 credit union representatives are attending. CURIA currently sports 145 official backers in the House and it is expected that more will sign on in the wake of credit union visits to federal legislators conducted in conjunction with the CUNA GAC this week. Kanjorski said of CURIA that credit unions “must be cognizant” that such a bill cannot pass in a short period of time. “But it is important that we show progress” toward improving Americans’ access to credit unions, he said explaining part of the motivation behind the second bill, the Credit Union Regulatory Relief Act (CURRA, H.R. 5519). Noting the country’s current housing and general economic woes, Kanjorski said this year the credit union movement is going to be even more necessary and needed by consumers. “You are the leaders. Reach out to your members. Reach out to your communities. America doesn’t need doom and gloom. America needs hope,” he said, adding, “The credit union movement is a real neighbor, a real partner.”

House CU reg relief hearing today

 Permanent link
WASHINGTON (3/6/08)—Today, as more than 4,500 credit union representatives attend the Credit Union National Association’s (CUNA) Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC) here, the House Financial Services Committee will launch a comprehensive look at credit union regulatory relief issues. In a hearing entitled “The Need for Credit Union Regulatory Relief and Improvement,” CUNA Chairman Tom Dorety, CEO of Suncoast Schools FCU, Tampa, Fla., will testify. Other groups expected on the witness panels include the National Credit Union Administration, the National Association of State CU Supervisors, the National Association of Federal Credit Unions and two banking industry representatives. NCUA’s Johnson, speaking at the GAC Wednesday, said her testimony will key in on two major issues. She said she will address the importance of creating a risk-based capital system for credit unions by reforming prompt corrective action (PCA) rules. Also, she will make her case for allowing all credit union charter types to offer services to underserved areas. Major discussion is expected to be devoted to those and other provisions of the Credit Union Regulatory Improvements Act, H.R. 1537, introduced by Reps. Paul Kanjorski (D-Pa.) and Ed Royce (R-Calif.). CURIA, among other things, also proposes to increase the member business lending cap to 20%, up from 12.25%, of a credit union’s assets. Reps. Paul Kanjorski (D-Pa.) and Ed Royce (R-Calif.) introduced a new credit union bill Monday, one which would offer regulatory relief in 12 areas but does not go as far as the Credit Union Regulatory Improvements Act (CURIA, H.R. 1537). Also expected to testify at the hearing are representatives from the American Bankers Association and the Independent Community Bankers of American. Today’s hearing, at 10 a.m. ET, will be streamed live on the Web. Use the resource link below. Click on the orange box that says "Click here to watch live webcast of this hearing."