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House Financial Services announces May hearings

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WASHINGTON (4/19/11)--Hearings on the impact of regulations and government policies on job creation and the economy in general have been tentatively scheduled for May by House Financial Services Committee Chairman Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.). An in-depth review of the Dodd-Frank Act, and a markup of legislation that would extend the deadline of some derivative-related portions of that Act, is set for May 12. National Flood Insurance Program reauthorization and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) will also be discussed during that hearing. CFPB-related bills will also be marked up on May 4, and a subcommittee will examine the Federal Reserve’s compliance with the Dodd Frank Act and the Freedom of Information Act on May 11. The House subcommittee on capital markets and government sponsored enterprises will hold a hearing on a to-be-determined topic later on that same day. The committee on May 3 will focus on job creation and capital formation. Bachus in the release said that the economy needs “government policies that promote growth, job creation and a competitive financial marketplace.” The U.S. Treasury Department will deliver its yearly report on the international finance system on May 5. The committee in a release noted that the schedule “remains tentative and will depend upon witness availability and other factors that may require changes.” Witnesses for the hearings will be announced in the near future. Members of congress will be in their home districts until early May. The Credit Union National Association has urged credit union backers nationwide to contact their representatives during this in-district work period. (See related April 14 story: CUNA’s Cheney: Further interchange action is critical)

CU rep among three FFIEC re-appointments

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WASHINGTON (4/19/11)--Texas Credit Union Commissioner Harold Feeney was one of three members of the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council’s (FFIEC) State Liaison Committee (SLC) to be reappointed on Monday. Feeney’s reappointment was confirmed by the National Association of State Credit Union Supervisors. Doug Foster, commissioner of the Texas Department of Savings and Mortgage Lending, and John Munn, director of the Nebraska Department of Banking and Finance, were also reconfirmed. The SLC encourages “the application of uniform examination principles and standards by state and federal agencies” and allows state regulators to “participate in the development of those principles and standards.” The SLC is a five-member panel of state financial regulatory agencies. Massachusetts Division of Banks Commissioner David Cotney and Kentucky Department of Financial Institutions Commissioner Charles Vice also serve on the SLC. SLC members serve two year terms. Feeney and the other two recently reappointed members are set to serve until March 31, 2013. National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) Chairman Debbie Matz earlier this month agreed to assume leadership of the FFIEC for a two year term. Matz is the first NCUA leader to take charge of the FFIEC in more than 20 years.

CUNA seeks credit union check collection comments

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WASHINGTON (4/19/11)--The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) has encouraged credit unions to comment on a Federal Reserve proposed rule that would amend its Regulation CC to increase next business day availability, and encourage electronic check processing and returns. The Fed proposal, which is part of the Dodd-Frank Act, will force credit unions and other financial institutions to increase to $200 the amount of deposited funds that will be made available for next business day availability. Credit unions will need to make this change by July 21. Under the proposal, a credit union or another depositary institution (the first institution to which a check is transferred) would be entitled to an expeditious check return only if it agrees to receive returned checks electronically. CUNA has also noted that the Fed would only entitle credit unions or another depositary institutions (the first institution to which a check is transferred) to an expeditious check return if it agrees to receive returned checks electronically. The Fed proposal would also shorten the reasonable additional hold extension from 5 to 2 business days for most checks and would apply check collection and return provisions, including warranties, to electronically-created items. The proposal removes all references to "nonlocal" checks and requires updates of model disclosure forms. However, credit unions using current model forms would be granted a 12 month safe harbor. CUNA in the comment call asks credit unions how various deposit- and return-related risks can be decreased. Credit unions may also comment on conversion costs, compliance costs, and other costs related to accepting electronic check returns. The Fed has also asked credit unions whether they charge back a customer’s account for returned checks. Comments are due to CUNA by May 20. Comments solicited by the Fed should be submitted by June 3. For the full comment call, use the resource link.

Inside Washington (04/18/2011)

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• WASHINGTON (4/18/11)--The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.’s (FDIC) plan to require further account insurance limit training for bank employees has banks both large and small, and their lobbying representation, complaining about the potentially burdensome changes. Banks have also noted that the FDIC’s training initiative could conflict with their own proprietary training programs, and have suggested that the FDIC itself – not the banks – educated consumers on FDIC insurance. However, as reported in Monday’s American Banker, some financial institutions have argued that establishing a standardized, industry-wide training regime could illuminate the often confusing realm of deposit insurance. The FDIC rules have varied in recent years, with the once standard $100,000 deposit coverage limit being temporarily raised to $250,000 per deposit during the financial crisis. Differing standards are applied to different account categories, such as joint accounts opened by married couples, trust accounts, and retirement accounts. The FDIC has noted that many consumers are confused by these differing standards, and some of those same consumers have complained that employees at their respective banks cannot accurately explain their account issues. The FDIC said it is “concerned that these situations could cause financial harm to depositors” and undermine consumer confidence. The agency has estimated that its to-be-developed computer-based training regime would take less than two hours for employees to complete … * WASHINGTON (4/19/11)--The Federal Reserve Board has redesigned and expanded the frequently-asked-questions (FAQs) section of its website with new questions and answers addressing the Fed’s roles and actions, currency and coin, consumer issues, the banking and financial system, and the economy. The new Current FAQs provides many answer links with related information and resources, and videos accompany some answers. The first topic in the new FAQs: How do I determine if a banknote is genuine? What should I do if I think I have a counterfeit note? ... * WASHINGTON (4/19/11)--Oversight of savings and loan holding companies will shift from the Office of Thrift Supervision to the Federal Reserve in July, and the Fed is seeking comment on how savings and loan oversight could be improved once it takes over (American Banker, April 18). The Fed has said that it will integrate thrift holding companies into its current supervisory programs, but has added that it is looking for general comment on how it should evaluate its own supervisory programs. Input on any risks and other characteristics that are specific to savings and loan holding companies has also been requested. The Fed is accepting comments through May 23 …