WASHINGTON (6/26/12)--Addressing a group of Washington, D.C.-area credit union executives Monday evening, Credit Union National Association (CUNA) President/CEO Bill Cheney urged all credit unions to rally behind the effort to convince the U.S. Congress to increase the cap on member business lending (MBL).
MACUMA Chairman John Hayez (left), COO of United States Senate FCU, Washington, D.C., and CUNA President/CEO Bill Cheney (right) greet one another as Cheney arrives to address the monthly meeting of D.C.-area credit union executives. (CUNA Photo)
Cheney, addressing the Metropolitan Credit Union Management Association's (MACUMA) monthly meeting, reported that CUNA has helped facilitate over 90,000 grassroots contacts with federal lawmakers in favor of legislation to increase the cap.
"Even if your credit union never intends to make a business loan, it's important that we have the ability to pass proactive legislation to enhance the credit union charter.
"A win will be a huge shot in the arm not just on this issue, but on all our future efforts to enhance the charter," Cheney said.
Credit unions can make a difference in helping the economy grow and recover through increased member business lending, Cheney told the credit union group.
He underscored that the MBL legislation has the strong backing of many small business groups, as demonstrated, for instance, in February when CUNA sponsored a "Small Business Hike the Hill," where credit unions brought their small business borrowers to Capitol Hill in support of credit union business lending legislation.
Pending legislation in both the House (H.R. 1418) and Senate (S. 2231) would increase the MBL cap to 27.5% of assets, up from 12.25%. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada has said the Senate bill, sponsored by Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.), will be voted this session.
"As I've discussed with Sen. Udall many times," Cheney said Monday evening, "our goal is not to just have a vote, our goal is to win a vote. We're making progress. We're very close to 60 votes."
He added a key factor is that senators are hearing directly from small businesses. "That's making all the difference in the world."
Cheney also discussed other credit union priority issues, including an ATM disclosure bill that is up for a House committee vote this week.
Cheney noted CUNA's strong support of the ATM bill (H.R. 4367) that was introduced by Reps. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-Mo.) and David Scott (D-Ga.) in April.
The bill would eliminate portions of Regulation E that require credit unions and other financial institutions that provide ATM services to display a physical notice on the ATM that a fee will be charged. Under Luetkemeyer-Scott legislation, ATMs would only be required to display the ATM disclosures on a screen, and give ATM users the choice of opting in to such a fee.
Cheney noted CUNA has worked hard over the last several weeks to move the legislation to a markup, meeting with a majority of the members of the House Financial Services Committee on the legislation, which has 120 co-sponsors and now is scheduled for Wednesday House Financial Services Committee vote.
This legislation addresses one example of an unnecessary regulatory burden for credit unions, Cheney told the MACUMA assembly, a burden that provides no off-setting benefit to consumers. He said fighting unnecessary operational burdens is a top CUNA priority and noted a recent National Credit Union Administration troubled debt restructuring (TDR) rule as an example of the positive impact CUNA and credit unions can have on the rulemaking process.
Under the new rule, credit unions soon will be allowed to modify TDR loans without having to immediately classify those loans as delinquent.
CUNA and credit unions had alerted the NCUA that under existing rules many credit unions were struggling to work with homeowners unable to pay their mortgage due to financial difficulties.
Cheney pointed out the NCUA Chairman Debbie Matz herself credited credit union trade associations and volunteers with first bringing this TDR issue to the agency's attention.
Another timely topic highlighted Monday night by the CUNA leader involves the "leave behind" projects CUNA and regional credit unions are involved in to honor the Republican and Democratic national conventions in Tampa, Fla., and Charlotte, N.C., respectively.
This Wednesday, Cheney noted, CUNA and credit union representatives will be in Charlotte at a volunteer day to work on a rooftop playground renovation project at Levine Children's Hospital. Earlier in June, a CUNA and credit union contingent rolled up their sleeves to support a similar effort at All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg, Fla. That project will retrofit an existing playground with special play equipment for the hospital's young patients.
Cheney noted that CUNA and credit unions have earned national recognition for their charitable "leave behind" projects since 2000.