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NEW: Bill Hampel named interim president/CEO of CUNA, effective June 11

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WASHINGTON (5/7/14 UPDATED 2:15 ET)--Current Credit Union National Association Chief Economist Bill Hampel will be interim president/CEO of CUNA, effective June 11, the same day that Bill Cheney, the current president/CEO, returns to California to become president/CEO of Santa Ana-based SchoolsFirst FCU, the largest credit union in that state.
Hampel, a senior member of CUNA's credit union advocacy team in Washington, is one of the longest-tenured executives of CUNA, having joined the association as an economist in 1978, promoted to vice president in 1985 and to senior vice president and chief economist in 1992.
An expert on the economy and credit union issues, he is regularly interviewed by major national television, radio and print media. He has also testified numerous times before Congress and is a registered lobbyist, advocating on behalf of credit unions on a wide variety of issues.
"Bill has deep and broad knowledge and understanding of CUNA's top advocacy issues and operations of the organization. He has demonstrated an ability to bring that background to bear in making decisions in the best interests of our members," said CUNA Chairman Dennis Pierce, president/CEO of CommunityAmerica CU, Lenexa, Kan. "During this interim period between CEOs, I expect CUNA and its members will have a steady hand at the helm."
Cheney noted Hampel's nearly four decades of experience in credit union policy issues and with Congress, regulators, state associations, credit unions and the press. "I've worked with Bill on a host of issues affecting the credit union system at large and policy issues specifically," Cheney said, adding, "Bill understands intuitively what credit unions need and want; I fully endorse his selection to oversee CUNA's efforts during the interim period."
Prior to joining CUNA, Hampel was an assistant professor of economics at the University of Montana-Missoula. Before that he was an instructor of economics at Iowa State University at Ames.
Hampel served as a staff member at Navy FCU, Vienna, Va., during a one-year sabbatical in 1989, where he studied credit union operations and carried out a variety of consulting projects.
He was on the board of directors for Madison, Wis.-based Great Wisconsin CU (formerly CUNA CU) from 1991 to 2003, serving as board chair from 1999 to 2001. He served on the board of the National Cooperative Bank, which supports America's cooperatives and their members, especially in low-income communities, by providing innovative financial and related services.
Hampel is a member of the American Economic Association and the National Association for Business Economists. He holds a doctorate in economics from Iowa State University.
CUNA's search for a permanent CEO will continue throughout the summer; the CUNA Board hopes to make a hire by this fall.
Meanwhile, CUNA Vice President of Economics and Statistics Mike Schenk has been named acting chief economist for the association.

CU relief bills sail through House vote

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WASHINGTON (5/7/14)--Three credit union regulatory relief bills were adopted by the U.S. House by voice vote last night. The bills, two of which are stand-alone credit union measures, are all important steps in the Credit Union National Association's larger relief agenda and attack credit union regulatory burden from a number of fronts.
CUNA Executive Vice President of Government Affairs John Magill last night said the significance of the legislative development cannot be overstated. 
"It is important for credit unions to note that two of these bills are credit union stand-alone bills. They passed the House on their own merits, not as part of a big roundup of many stakeholders' legislative agendas. Credit unions, the state credit union associations and CUNA have taken their regulatory burden story to Capitol Hill, and federal lawmakers are listening to us," Magill noted.
He added, "CUNA and credit unions thank House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) and House leadership for guiding these bills through House passage at a time when so few bills are seeing congressional action.
"We also thank the chairman and other key lawmakers for working so closely with CUNA and credit unions to make this happen."
Under suspension of the rules, these CUNA-backed bills were passed:
  • H.R. 3584, the Capital Access for Small Community Financial Institutions Act, introduced by Reps. Steve Stivers (R-Ohio) and Joyce Beatty (D-Ohio). This bill corrects a drafting error in the Federal Home Loan Bank (FHLB) Act thereby allowing state-chartered, privately insured credit unions to join the FHLB system. The change would give 132 privately insured credit unions across the country additional opportunities to provide mortgage credit to their members, CUNA has noted.
  • The Community Institution Mortgage Relief Act (H.R.  3468). Reps. Ed Royce (R-Calif.) and Ed Perlmutter (D-Colo.) introduced this bill to provide National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund (NCUSIF) coverage for trust accounts,  such as Interest on Lawyer Trust Accounts (IOLTAS) and other similar accounts. CUNA backed this bill as necessary because the National Credit Union Administration has interpreted that the Federal Credit Union Act does not permit it to extend such coverage.  H.R. 3468 would provide parity in the insurance treatment of trust accounts offered by credit unions with the treatment of similar accounts offered by banks.
  • H.R. 2672, which grants credit unions and other lenders greater input into rural-area designations made by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The rural county designations determined by regulators can impact the types of products credit unions may offer their members in those areas, and CUNA maintains that any time credit unions can gain an additional opportunity to provide input into the process, they should do so.
When bills are considered under suspension of House rules, it dictates that no amendments can be added during the consideration process and the bills must have enough lawmakers support to pass by a two-thirds vote. Prior to Tuesday night's vote, CUNA contacted each member of the House, urging them to pass the three credit union relief bills.

Next the Senate must consider these bills.  If adopted in that chamber, the bills move on to President Barack Obama's desk to be signed into law.
CUNA is also a strong proponent of credit union regulatory relief measures that are scheduled for votes by the House Financial Services Committee today. Use the resource link to read more on those bills.

Markup of CU relief bills starts today

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WASHINGTON (5/7/14)--The House Financial Services Committee is slated to start a multi-day markup session on 15 bills today, including four measures that would provide regulatory relief for credit unions.
The Credit Union National Association has stated its strong support for the bills that would help chip away at the regulatory burden that confronts credit unions on a daily basis. (See related story: CU relief bills sail through House vote.)

The bills are:
  • The Financial Regulatory Clarity Act (H.R. 4466), which would fight duplicative federal rules;
  • The Portfolio Lending and Mortgage Access Act (H.R. 2673), which would treat mortgages held in portfolio at credit unions and other mortgage lenders as qualified mortgages for purposes of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau mortgage lending rules;
  • The Mortgage Choice Act (H.R. 3211), which addresses some credit union concerns regarding point and fee definitions in the CFPB's amended final "Ability to Repay" rule; and
  • The Community Institution Mortgage Relief Act (H.R. 4521), which would exempt credit unions under $10 billion in assets from a Dodd-Frank Act requirement that mortgage lenders must hold an escrow account for five years for higher-priced, first-lien mortgages secured by borrower's principal dwelling (News Now May 6).

CUs launch support for Calif. congressional candidate

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WASHINGTON (5/7/14)--Credit unions have launched an independent effort to support the candidacy of Redlands, Calif., Mayor Pete Aguilar (D) for the state's 31st Congressional District.
Click to view larger image Pete Aguilar (D) is running, with credit union support, to represent California's 31st Congressional District. He is shown here in April at a Justice for Immigration Coalition forum in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. (CUNA photo)
The Credit Union Legislative Action Council (CULAC) Tuesday filed with the Federal Election Commission to launch an independent expenditure (IE) in support of Aguilar's candidacy. An IE is a paid communication directed to the general public advocating for the election or defeat of a candidate for federal office that must be conducted independently from, and not coordinated in any way with, the candidate being supported.
CULAC is the federal political action committee of the Credit Union National Association.
Aguilar is a former employee of Arrowhead CU, San Bernardino, Calif., with $773 million in assets, during which time he was an active participant and advocate for credit unions. Additionally, Aguilar was active in local underserved communities through credit union community outreach.
"Pete Aguilar worked at an Inland Empire credit union, and thus understands and appreciates the critical role credit unions play in the financial lives of the 170,000 credit union members in the 31st District," said Trey Hawkins, CUNA vice president of political affairs. "We're proud to support Pete's candidacy because we know his credit union background will prove a valuable asset in Congress as he fights for those working families."
CULAC is spending $197,189.03 on direct mail and digital advertising, both in English and Spanish. CULAC had previously contributed $10,000 to Aguilar's campaign, and he has strong support from the California Credit Union League and local credit unions.
California's 31st District is an open seat created by the announced retirement of incumbent Rep. Gary Miller (R) who will be stepping down at the end of his term. Under state rules, the top two vote-getters in a nonpartisan primary June 3 move to the general election regardless of party.

Former Senate Banking chairman asks NCUA to modify RBC plan

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WASHINGTON (5/7/14)--Former senator Alfonse D'Amato clarified congressional intent for the National Credit Union Administration in a May 7 comment letter, telling the agency that if the U.S. Congress wanted the regulator to set a different two-risk-based net worth standard for well versus adequately capitalized credit unions, it would have said so.
D'Amato notes in his letter that the NCUA's proposed risk-based capital plan, issued for comment in January, would apply a risk-based capital standard to determine whether a credit union is well capitalized.
"Doing so would be inconsistent with the intent my colleagues and I had when we crafted the credit union version of Prompt Corrective Action (PCA) in 1998 and exceed the authority we conveyed to the NCUA under the Federal Credit Union Act," D'Amato stated. The New York Republican is a former member and chairman of the Senate Banking Committee.
D'Amato went on to clarify that while credit union PCA was modeled after the bank regime, there are "some very important differences." For instance, the standards for a credit union to be adequately or well capitalized are higher than those set for banks.
"Because of this higher pure net worth requirement for credit unions, we called for a different risk-based component in credit union PCA.
"Rather than the dual risk-based capital system in place for banks, with a given risk-based capital ratio threshold to be adequately capitalized and a higher risk-based capital ratio to be well-capitalized, we instructed the NCUA to construct only a risk-based net worth floor, to take account of situations where the 6% requirement to be adequately capitalized was not sufficient."
D'Amato urged the NCUA as it works to finalize its RBC rule to apply the risk-based standards to capital adequacy.

Merchants fail to file petition for interchange re-hearing

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WASHINGTON (5/7/14)--An important deadline has passed for the debit card interchange fee cap court case between merchants' groups and the Federal Reserve System. The merchants failed to meet a May 5 deadline to request a re-hearing of the case.

That means the Supreme Court is now the lone option for merchants that wish to challenge the ruling.
The merchant interchange claims were made in the case known as NACS, et al. v. Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, in which merchants challenged the Fed's implementation of a Dodd-Frank Act-imposed debit interchange cap as too high.
In an early hearing in the case, U.S. District Judge Richard Leon last July vacated the Fed interchange rule and issued a stay so the rule remained in place until the appeals process was completed.
The Credit Union National Association and its partner members of The Clearing House coalition maintained that the cap, in fact, is too restrictive.
The ruling, reached in March by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, unanimously rejected claims that the Fed interchange rules violated the plain text of the Durbin Amendment to the Dodd-Frank Act. This ruling will become official May 12.
Any petitions merchants file with the Supreme Court must be filed by June 19. If such a position is filed, the Fed's response and any amicus briefs from supporters must be sent to the court within 30 days after the case is placed on the docket.

CFPB floats plan to promote effective privacy disclosures

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WASHINGTON (5/7/14)--The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Tuesday proposed a rule aimed at promoting more effective privacy disclosures from financial institutions to their members or customers. The rule would allow companies that limit their consumer data-sharing and meet other requirements to post their annual privacy notices online rather than delivering them individually in paper form.
"Consumers need clear information about how their personal information is being used by financial institutions," said CFPB Director Richard Cordray. "This proposal would make it easier for consumers to find and access privacy policies, while also making it cheaper for industry to provide disclosures."
Under the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA), financial institutions are required to send annual notices to consumers, describing the conditions by which and how the financial institution shares members' personal information.
The CFPB proposal would allow institutions to post privacy notices online if they satisfy certain conditions, such as using a model disclosure form developed by federal regulatory agencies in 2009. (See resource link.) The rule would apply both to financial institutions and those nonbanks that are within the CFPB's jurisdiction under the GLBA.
Under the proposal, if an institution qualified for and wants to rely on the online disclosure method, it would have to inform consumers annually about the availability of the disclosures. Those alerts, however, could be included as part of other routine mailings. Currently institutions must send consumers a separate annual communication about privacy disclosures.

If an institution chooses not to meet the requirements for the online disclosure method, it would be required to continue to deliver annual privacy notices to its customers.
Benefits of the proposed rule include constant access to privacy policies for consumers, limited data sharing with third parties, and a potential savings of $17 million across the industry if institutions were to choose the online disclosure method.
In addition, the model disclosure form designed by federal regulators would allow consumers to easily comparison shop before deciding which financial institution to use. It would allow customers to better educate themselves about different types of privacy policies.
The CFPB will accept comments on the proposed rule for 30 days after its publication in the Federal Register.
Use the second resource link to see a copy of the proposed rule.

CU-supported candidates do well in N.C. primaries

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WASHINGTON (5/7/14)--A trio of credit union-supported candidates fared well in Tuesday's Republican primary elections in North Carolina.
U.S. House incumbent Walter Jones and House candidate David Rouzer won their respective party primaries in the 3rd and 7th Congressional District elections. The 6th District candidate, Phil Berger, Jr., appeared headed to a July 15 primary runoff with Mark Walker as of late Tuesday evening.
The candidates needed more than 40% of the total primary vote in their district in order to secure the party nomination without a runoff; with 58% of precincts reporting, Berger was leading a nine-candidate field with 36.7% of the reported vote.
The Credit Union National Association and the Carolinas Credit Union League (CCUL) took active roles in these elections. CCUL Senior Vice President of Association Services Dan Schline noted that the 3rd, 6th and 7th districts are all heavily Republican, so these primary winners are likely to move on to Washington following their November contests.
"We're proud to support candidates who are actively working on behalf of credit unions and understand what they have to offer their constituents," said Trey Hawkins, CUNA's vice president of political affairs (News Now May 6).
Jones was the first North Carolina sponsor of the Promoting Lending to America's Small Business Act of 2009, which aimed to raise the credit union member business lending cap. He has also strongly supported Jacksonville's Marine FCU. Berger Jr. has strong connections to credit unions in his district, and Rouzer supported that state's credit unions during his time in the N.C. House.
CULAC, CUNA's PAC, starts 2014 on solid footing, with more than $922,000 in cash available. All three of the North Carolina candidates received the maximum CULAC campaign contribution of $5,000. According to, CULAC remains one of the top 20 PACs in terms of contributions to candidates, and one of the most bi-partisan. During 2013-14, donations were split 50-50 between Democratic and Republican candidates.

Johnson: Housing finance reform votes to resume next week

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WASHINGTON (5/7/14)--Senate Banking Committee Chairman Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) said Tuesday that his housing finance reform bill could pass by a 13-9 vote, or better, when the panel resumes its markup on the legislation next week (Politico May 6).
It was already widely anticipated that the Johnson-Crapo reform bill would pass the committee with the support of 12 of the panel's members, including Johnson, the committee's ranking member, Rep. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), and 10 others who backed similar legislation last year as co-sponsors.

Politico reported that Johnson, during a brief interview, declined to identify 13th senator he believes will support the legislation.

When a committee vote on the bill was postponed at the end of April, Johnson said, the delay would aid discussions that would "build a larger coalition supporting the bill."

"While we have the votes to report the bill out today, members of the committee have asked for a brief delay to try to work out additional issues prior to a final vote," he explained.

The legislation is a 425-page plan, known as the Housing Finance Reform and Taxpayer Protection Act of 2014 (S. 1217), which would overhaul the housing finance market and address the issues created by the current government ownership of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.