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CU-backed candidates perform well in Ky., Ga., Idaho

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WASHINGTON (5/22/14)--Senate and congressional candidates in Kentucky, Georgia and Idaho who garnered support from their state leagues, as well as the Credit Union National Association and the Credit Union Legislative Action Council (CULAC) performed well in Tuesday's primaries.

Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), the Senate minority leader, defeated Tea Party challenger Matt Bevin to face Democrat Allison Lundergan Grimes in what is predicted to be one of the tightest races in the country come November. McConnell was backed by the Kentucky Credit Union League and will be throughout the campaign. He was also supported with $156,000 in television ads from CULAC ( News Now May 21).

In Idaho, incumbent Rep. Mike Simpson (R) defeated challenger Bryan Smith and is expected to win in November due to the heavily Republican nature of the first district.

"Mike is a longtime friend of credit unions in Idaho, he has consistently supported upholding credit unions' tax status," said Will Hall, government affairs officer for the Idaho Credit Union League. "Most recently, he signed the King-Meeks letter to the National Credit Union Administration regarding its risk-based capital (RBC) proposal."

Hall was referring to a bipartisan letter with the signatures of more than 320 House lawmakers, joining Reps. Peter King (R-N.Y.) and Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.), to urge federal regulators to be judicious as they work to finalize a RBC rule.  (See News Now May 13: Concerned about RBC proposal, 75% of U.S. Reps. sign letter to NCUA.)

In the Georgia Senate race, Rep. Jack Kingston (R), finished with 26% of the vote, a second-place finish to David Perdue, former CEO of Dollar General, who took 31%. The two will face off in July in an attempt to fill the seat left open by retiring Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R).

Incumbent Rep. Hank Johnson (D) defeated his opponent in the primary with 50% of the vote, moving one step closer to being elected to a fifth term as representative to Georgia's 4th District. Johnson is a longtime credit union supporter who co-sponsored a bill to raise the cap on credit union member business loans (MBL) to 27.5% of assets, up from 12.25%.

Several candidates in Georgia finished high in the polls, but did not get the requisite 50% of the vote, so they will face off against another candidate in a July 22 runoff election.

State Sen. Buddy Carter (R) finished first in the 1st District race, winning 36% of the vote. He will face surgeon Bob Johnson July 22.

Mike Collins (R), owner of a trucking company and board member of Norcross, Ga.-based Associated CU, with $1.3 billion in assets, will also be in a runoff July 22 in the 10th District. If elected in November, Collins would be the first credit union board member elected to Congress from Georgia.

"He has met with credit union leadership throughout the district, visited branches located in the district as well as received financial support through CULAC as well as personal donations," said Cindy Connelly, the Georgia Credit Union Affiliates senior vice president of government influence. "In Georgia we are pleased to be able to work with Mike and his campaign to try to get a legislator who has spent years learning about the issues that impact credit unions and their members. For that reason Georgia credit unions have and will continue to support Mike's campaign."

In the 11th District, former Rep. Bob Barr (R) finished second place in the primary, with his 26% of the vote enough to put him into the July 22 runoff against State Sen. Barry Loudermilk.

"Rep. Barr was a solid CU supporter during his prior service in the House and earned the league's and CULAC's early support," said Trey Hawkins, CUNA's vice president of political affairs.

In Arkansas, credit union-supported candidate state Rep. Ann Clemmer (R), lost to banker French Hill for the nomination to replace retiring Rep. Tom Griffin (R).

'Rural' definition has many implications for CUs, CUNA tells senators

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WASHINGTON (5/22/14)--The designation of an area as "rural" by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has many implications for credit unions, the Credit Union National Association told key senators in a May 21 letter. The letter declared CUNA's support for a bill that would increase the number of counties that could receive such designation.
The HELP Rural Communities Act (S. 1916), introduced by Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), would direct the CFPB to establish an application process by which a county could request to be designated as a rural area if the CFPB has not already assigned it that status.
Credit unions operating in "rural" areas may be exempt for some regulatory burdens, such as an escrow requirements under the Truth in Lending Act that requires certain lenders to create an escrow account for at least five years for higher-priced mortgage loans. They may also be exempt from standards under the Ability-to-Repay and Qualified Mortgage (QM) rules that disqualify mortgage loans with balloon payments from meeting the QM standard.
Being exempt from such requirements, CUNA noted in its letter, can beneficially affect the types of products a credit union can offer their members in what can be underserved areas.
The letter was sent to Senate Banking Committee Chairman Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) and its ranking member, Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) and signed by CUNA President/CEO Bill Cheney. Cheney closed the letter by saying CUNA and credit unions look forward to working with the legislators to see the bill's enactment.

Leahy removes patent 'troll' bill from vote calendar

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WASHINGTON (5/22/14)--Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), a primary sponsor of a Senate patent reform bill, announced Wednesday that he is taking his bill off the voting agenda of his committee. The legislation would, in part, fight the patent law abuses of "trolls" that send questionable patent assertion letters to extract settlements from credit unions and other businesses.
 In early April, Leahy sent out a notice to postpone a scheduled markup of the bill known as the Patent Transparency and Improvements Act (S. 1720), but made it clear that he wanted to move forward with a vote this spring. However, on Wednesday he said, "Because there is not sufficient support behind any comprehensive deal, I am taking the patent bill off the Senate Judiciary Committee agenda."
He added, "If the stakeholders are able to reach a more targeted agreement that focuses on the problem of patent trolls, there will be a path for passage this year and I will bring it immediately to the committee."
Credit Union National Association Senior Vice President of Legislative Affairs Ryan Donovan said in response to the announcement, "CUNA will continue to work with our partners in the Main Street Coalition and with others who share the view that patent troll abuses should be stopped, and we appreciate Chairman Leahy's willingness to take this issue up as soon as a path forward materializes."
Leahy has had CUNA's support for the demand-letter language within S. 1720, which would aid credit unions and other businesses that have been targeted with financial threats through the demand letters of the bad actors--the so-called patent "trolls."

CUNA lays out concerns with RBC proposal

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WASHINGTON (5/22/14)--With just four business days remaining for stakeholders to comment on the National Credit Union Administration's risk-based capital (RBC) proposal, the Credit Union National Association shares several key points to assist credit unions, credit union leagues and other stakeholders in finalizing their own comments. CUNA will be circulating its detailed letter to association leaders prior to the comment deadline.
CUNA believes the financial health of the credit union system now and during the financial crisis demonstrates that the NCUA proposal is not justified.
CUNA also believes that while the current RBC rules are serving credit unions adequately, they understand that the NCUA is determined to move forward with a proposal.  In light of that, CUNA will urge a number of key changes for any new proposal. 
CUNA is opposing the proposal's 10.5% requirement for a well-capitalized credit union, stating that this number is unnecessary and will result in too much capital and dramatically limit credit union growth in the long term. This will affect credit unions' ability to serve their members and communities.
CUNA also believes that the economic impact of the proposal will be more detrimental than the NCUA has indicated.
Approximately 1,000 credit unions would be affected, based on a conservative estimate, requiring them to raise between $3 billion and $4 billion in new capital and collectively, credit unions' buffers or margins above being well capitalized would decline by $7.6 billion. 
CUNA believes that there is no reason for credit unions to feel comfortable with the reduction in their buffers.
While CUNA does not support the proposal, given strong support for RBC at the agency, CUNA does not believe it is in its members' best interests to simply demand the proposal be withdrawn and will be recommending a comprehensive set of recommendations to dramatically improve the proposal, help identify the relatively few credit unions that may need to hold more capital without unduly burdening all other credit unions and condemning them to stagnation by overcapitalization.