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CU-small biz MBL grassroots key in next weeks CUNA

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WASHINGTON (4/3/12)--Credit Union National Association (CUNA) President/CEO Bill Cheney is calling on credit unions to continue--and to redouble--their member business lending (MBL) advocacy efforts during the current April Congressional District Work Period.

Cheney emphasized the importance of credit union and small business meetings with federal lawmakers in their home offices, town hall meetings, and other venues available only when the U.S. House and Senate members are working in-district. The CUNA leader said in addition to face-to-face meetings, credit unions should contact lawmakers on their Facebook pages and through Twitter to urge them to vote in favor of MBL legislation.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) pledged recently to bring a Senate MBL bill to a vote in the Senate.  While precise timing of that vote is unclear at this point, CUNA President/CEO Bill Cheney noted that it is likely to occur soon after the current two-week District Work Period--making it imperative, he said, for credit unions--and small businesses--to ramp up their grass roots efforts in support of an MBL cap increase.

The Senate MBL bill, now numbered as S. 2231, like H.R. 1418 in the House, would increase the MBL cap to 27.5% of assets, up from 12.25%. Credit unions must meet certain criteria to pursue the higher cap.

A strong credit union-small business effort is particularly critical before the Senate vote, Cheney noted, in light of the intensity of opposition the MBL measure is facing from the banking industry. "They are willing to derail their own pending legislation in Congress--which would help banks--just to try to block a credit union bill, which would help consumers and the economy."

A state and local advocacy push at this time will back up a recent federal-level effort by credit unions to deliver their message to representatives from each of the 535 House and Senate offices as part of the advocacy effort launched in conjunction with the CUNA Governmental Affairs Conference, which attracted more than 4,100 credit union representatives to Washington last week.

During district visits, as credit unions meet with federal lawmakers in their home offices, town hall meetings, and other venues available only when the House and Senate members are working in-district, credit union advocates should urge their senators to vote for MBL bill S. 2231, and ask House members to be ready to approve the House version of the MBL bill (H.R. 1418), Cheney said.

Lawmakers will return to Washington, D.C. the week of April 16.

CUNA continues to maintain its MBL Action Alert with talking points and other tools to help credit unions contact federal lawmakers. See the resource links below.

CFPB NCUA promote financial literacy month

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WASHINGTON (4/3/12)--The National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) are among the federal agencies observing April's Financial Literacy Month, and both the NCUA and CFPB announced part of their plans for the month on Monday.

The NCUA plans to emphasize social media during the month by using Twitter to release daily postings on many weekly themes, including:

  • Tax tips;
  • Money management for youth;
  • Savings, investing, and retirement; and
  • Homeownership.
NCUA Chairman Debbie Matz said the Twitter campaign continues her agency's commitment "to reaching new audiences and online communities," and the NCUA in a release encouraged credit unions "to reach out to younger members in order to grow and thrive in the future." By redistributing the NCUA's twitter posts, "credit unions can reach out to and educate this important demographic about how to better manage money," Matz added.

The CFPB is active on Twitter and Facebook, but is also taking a more traditional approach this month, scheduling public appearances to promote financial literacy. CFPB Director Richard Cordray will address the CFPB's work on behalf of consumers at the New York Public Library's Financial Empowerment Day on April 21.

Gail Hillebrand, CFPB associate director of Consumer Education and Engagement, will speak earlier in the month, participating in an April 17 Financial Literacy Day event on Capitol Hill. Hillebrand will also take part in the Financial Literacy and Education Summit on April 23. That event will be co-hosted by the Chicago Federal Reserve Bank and Visa Inc.

CFPB Office of Financial Education Assistant Director Camille Busette is also set to appear at an April 19 Texas Panhandle Community Asset Building Forum.

To start the month, the agency also highlighted its new interactive website, Ask CFPB, which features clear definitions of financial terms and products, such as credit reports and reverse mortgages, and also explains many of the terms and features of financial products. The agency in a release also noted the work it has done to gather and address consumer complaints about financial products.

The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) is again sponsoring its annual National Youth Saving Challenge this month, and credit unions across the country are also encouraging their members to budget, save, manage credit, and pay down debt. (See related March 30 News Now story: April is National Financial Literacy Month.)

For more on the NCUA, CFPB and CUNA efforts, use the resource links.

NCUA opens June 5 listening session registration

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ALEXANDRIA, Va. (4/3/12)--The National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) has opened registration for the third date in its series of "listening sessions," a June 5 meeting in St. Louis, Mo.

The session is scheduled to be held between 1 and 4 p.m. ET. Registration will be limited to the first 150 reservations.

NCUA Chairman Debbie Matz noted that the agency is taking its listening tour "to all regions of our nation" in a bid to hear directly from credit union officials and volunteers about how the agency can improve examination processes and reduce or streamline regulations.

The NCUA listening sessions will begin on May 2 in Boston, Mass., and are also scheduled for:

  • May 9 in Alexandria, Va.
  • June 12 in Orlando, Fla.;
  • July 10 in San Diego, Calif.; and
  • July 31 in Denver, Colo.
For more on the sessions, use the resource link.

Inside Washington (04/02/2012)

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  • WASHINGTON (4/3/12)--Thirty-two Delaware credit union advocates met with the offices of Sens. Tom Carper (D) and Chris Coons (D), and U.S. Rep. John Carney (D) during the Credit Union National Association's Governmental Affairs Conference in Washington D.C. last month. Member business lending (MBL), supplemental capital, and credit union regulatory burden were the top issues credit unions addressed. Among the credit unions that made Hill visits: American Spirit FCU, Newark; Delaware Alliance FCU, New Castle; Delaware First FCU, Wilmington; Del-One FCU, Dover; Delaware State Police FCU, Georgetown; DEXSTA FCU, Wilmington; Dover FCU; Eagle One FCU, Philadelphia; and Sussex County FCU, Seaford. Four small business owners joined the group to tell how their credit unions provided them with loans when banks would not. Eustace Kamanja, owner of Queen Bee Beauty Supply, and his daughter joined American Spirit FCU in visiting with Coons. Coons, who studied for a year in Kenya, spoke to Kamanja in his native language. Dover FCU brought three small business owners: Alisa Adams, owner of Art Fitness, Delaware's first boutique fitness studio; Pam Satterfield, owner of Brookdale Transport, a trucking/hauling business; and Connie Richard, owner of Hartly Family Learning Center. In the photo is Coons, left, and Sharon Schaeffer, CEO of Delaware First FCU (Photo provided by the Delaware Credit Union League)  …
  • WASHINGTON (4/3/12)--The government's focus on fair lending, most notably  represented by the largest mortgage settlement in history and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's new authority, has the banking industry nervous (American Banker April 2). Fair lending sessions were packed at a recent Consumer Banking Assocation conference. Organizers provided extra time for additional questions from attendees. Referrals from regulators have accounted for more than 25 open investigations and eight lawsuits and the Justice Department's fair lending unit shows no signs of slowing, Eric Halperin, the Justice Department's special counsel for fair lending, told attendees during one session. Halperin said fair lending is a priority throughout the federal government. Jo Ann Barefoot, a co-chairman at Treliant Risk Advisors, described the "fairness revolution"--driven by Occupy Wall Street, Elizabeth Warren, politicians and the media--that has turned compliance into headline news …