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At CUNAs 75th Hyland stresses diversity leadership and more

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WASHINGTON (9/22/09)--National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) board member Gigi Hyland offered congratulations on the Credit Union National Association’s (CUNA’s) 75th anniversary and, looking ahead, stressed the importance of credit unions demonstrating diversity, financial education, collaboration and leadership.
Click to view larger imageNCUA board member Gigi Hyland offers congratulations to CUNA on its 75 years of accomplishments and says NCUA will have to take a leadership role in comments to the U.S. Treasury Department and the U.S. Congess on the topic of supplemental capital. (CUNA photo)
Hyland was a guest speaker last week at CUNA’s board of directors meeting held in Estes Park, Colo., in conjunction with the association’s 75th anniversary commemorative activities. “You have every right to be proud of this association that has accomplished so much over the years to ensure credit unions can execute their mission,” Hyland told the CUNA board. For the system to capably address future challenges, Hyland emphasized four goals:
* Be diverse. “I believe CU management and board staff should be as diverse as their membership,” she said, emphasizing the importance of ongoing recruitment of new volunteers. * Educate, educate, educate. “If members can’t learn the basics of a checking account, how to buy a house, or how to use a credit card from credit unions, it is unlikely they will be financially empowered from anywhere else,” she said. * Collaborate. “We’re good at it—sometimes,” she said and urged CUs to look for new opportunities to combine resources and collaborate, especially in these difficult economic times. * Lead. “Be a profile in courage,” Hyland said. “Let’s lead this system forward so we can ensure it thrives for the next 75 years and beyond.”
Hyland said in a Q&A with the CUNA board she believes the NCUA will “have to lead and be clear in comments to Treasury and Congress” on the topic of supplemental capital. Her office is continuing an effort to “synthesize regulatory concerns” that can be presented to the NCUA board. “My goal is to have a paper before the NCUA board in December for consideration and a vote,” she said, recognizing “there is an urgency” to this issue.

CUNA urges more changes to CARD Act rule

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WASHINGTON (9/22/09)—Minimum payment disclosure requirements that will be effective Feb. 22, 2010 under the new law known as the Credit CARD Act should apply only to credit cards, the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) urged the Federal Reserve Board, the agency charged with implementing the law. CUNA also emphasized that credit unions continue to experience severe difficulties as they struggle to comply with the 21-day rule, which requires creditors to adopt reasonable policies and procedures to ensure periodic statements for open-end accounts are mailed or delivered to borrowers at least 21 days before the payment is due. Otherwise, if the payment is made after that time frame, the creditor may not treat it as late for any purpose, including charging a late fee, reporting the account as delinquent to credit bureaus, or imposing a penalty interest rate. CUNA is seeking a targeted legislative remedy, and urges the Fed to support its efforts. CUNA has also worked extensively with Fed officials regarding the problems credit unions have confronted as they work to comply with the 21-day rule. In its eighth comment letter to the Fed on CARD Act issues this summer, this one dated Sept. 21, CUNA said that if the minimum payment disclosures are not limited to credit cards, credit unions will incur significant costs to provide information to their members that will be confusing and may lead some borrowers to make incorrect payments. CUNA added that limiting minimum payment disclosures to credit cards is wholly consistent with previous action by the Fed. The agency recognized similar problems, CUNA noted, when it issued rules earlier to implement similar minimum payment disclosure requirements under the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005. “The Board limited those statutory provisions regarding minimum payment disclosures to credit cards, and we urge the Board to do so again,” CUNA’s Deputy General Counsel Mary Dunn wrote. CUNA noted that the minimum payment disclosure issue is not part of the interim final rule that was open for comment, but that CUNA was compelled to address this issue now because of the problems that could arise if starting minimum payment disclosures have to be reflected for all open-end loan accounts on consolidated statements, which a number of credit unions provide to their members for all their accounts. CUNA also commented on the interim rule’s specific provisions. Use the resource link below to read CUNA’s complete remarks.

GAC housing sign up starts today

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WASHINGTON (9/22/09)--Beginning today, those planning to attend the Credit Union National Association's (CUNA’s) 2010 Governmental Affairs Conference Feb. 21-25 in Washington, D.C. can reserve hotel rooms Monday-Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET, both online and via phone call. New this year, a number of state credit union leagues have obtained housing blocks for use by their affiliated credit unions. Member credit unions from the following states, listed alphabetically, can use the link at the end of this article to download league housing information and contact their league representative:
* Alaska, Alabama, Arizona, California/Nevada, Colorado/Wyoming, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Iowa, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts/New Hampshire/Rhode Island, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana, North Carolina, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and West Virginia.
Rooms are not guaranteed and are based on availability. Credit unions in states not listed above should use the second resource link to contact the CUNA Housing Bureau website, or call 1-800-974-3084 Monday-Friday from 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. ET, or, to reserve a room via fax, dial 1-800-521-6017 or 847-940-2386.

Vibrant 2010 GAC lineup building

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WASHINGTON (9/22/09)—To a back drop of the most aggressive agenda of financial services issues before the U.S. Congress and the administration in a generation, the 2010 Credit Union National Association (CUNA) Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC) will give credit union leaders the opportunity to learn the latest, first hand, from influential policymakers. Participants also have opportunities to speak out on critical issues, and ensure the credit union difference is well understood on Capitol Hill. And beginning today, those planning to attend the Feb.21-25 event in Washington, D.C, can reserve hotel rooms online or by phone. (See related story: GAC housing sign up starts today.) CUNA President/CEO Dan Mica, noting the pivotal events that are leading up to the coming year’s GAC said, “We have both serious challenges and real opportunity in the year ahead. The challenge will be to ensure credit unions are not disadvantaged or overburdened by new regulation and reform. The opportunity will be to advance our goals on member business lending and capital reform at a time when Congress is seeking ways to spur economic growth. We really need to make an impact. The GAC is the place to do it.” The 2010 GAC will feature an array of prominent speakers, including heavy hitters to address the nation’s economy. Larry Kudlow, host of CNBC’s “The Kudlow Report” is a renowned free-market, supply-side economist with a storied career spanning three decades. Scheduled to address the GAC, he will offer a wealth of insight and expertise to help credit union leaders better navigate tomorrow's evolving economic and political terrain. On the political front, the 2010 GAC will offer a lively “point-counterpoint” discussion on national issues of the day from two of the most prominent voices on the left and right: Former Vermont governor and Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean will pair with Joe Scarborough, the former Republican congressman who now hosts MSNBC’s popular “Morning Joe” program. Additionally, key speakers from Congress, the administration and the financial regulatory agencies will be announced in coming weeks as the agenda takes shape for a conference that continues to draw many of the most influential policy makers in Washington to provide the latest information on legislation and regulation that affects credit unions and their ability to serve their members. The GAC’s on-point education sessions also will ensure credit unions are fully briefed on credit union legislative priorities, the impact of coming regulations, and grassroots political and campaign involvement strategies. As always, the conference will devote a day when credit union leaders deliver their message to Capitol Hill and meet personally with their state congressional delegations. “It’s important for meetings with members of Congress to take place year-round through such efforts as our Hike the Hill program. But the GAC is the one time during the year when thousands of credit union people are here together to deliver our message, tell our story and demonstrate our support to our friends on Capitol Hill,” says Mica. “As a former member of Congress, I can tell you for a fact that this has a great impact. But it all starts with you, and your own commitment to be involved and participate.” The 2010 GAC will again feature a special kickoff concert on Sunday evening, Feb. 21, presented by the CUNA Councils and preceded by a dessert reception in the Convention Center’s Grand Exhibit Hall. The band as well as more of the GAC’s featured general session speakers will be announced in the weeks to come. Watch CUNA’s News Now , on the CUNA website at www.cuna.org, and biweekly Credit Union NewsWatch newsletter for more details.

Inside Washington (09/21/2009)

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* WASHINGTON (9/22/09)--Bank of America could face questions from the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform regarding some legal conversations that took place when BofA merged with Merrill Lynch. Rep. Edolphus Towns (D-N.Y.) wrote a letter to the bank Friday, saying that it can’t use attorney-client privileges to keep the conversations private from Congress (The New York Times Sept. 21). Towns gave BofA until noon Monday to provide him with the information, but the bank responded and asked to move the deadline until after today. Towns’ spokesperson said he would stick to the deadline. If BofA reveals the information, it will affect other investigations of the BofA and Merrill Lynch deal by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Andrew Cuomo, New York attorney general ... * WASHINGTON (9/22/09)--Maine credit unions recently met with their federal delegates in Washington, D.C., during the Maine Credit Union League’s annual Hike the Hill trip Sept. 15-16. Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) told the group that “credit unions are great for Maine and their members.” Maine Sen. Susan Collins (R) and Maine Reps. Mike Michaud (D) and Chellie Pingree (D) made similar statements. Michaud said he appreciated what credit unions do and applauded them for providing credit when many banks are not. “I am a big believer in helping increase access to credit, and it seems to me that credit unions would be a great way to help small businesses because they have plenty of money to lend, which would be wonderful for the marketplace,” Pingree said. Pictured are: Michaud, left, who shook hands with Normand R. Dubreuil, president/CEO of Maine State CU, prior to meeting with credit union representatives at the Hill visit. Also present were: Oxford FCU’s Matt Kaubris, president/CEO; Pete Theriault, associate board member; Richard Bilodeau, board member at Rainbow FCU and Dan Daggett, vice president at Down East CU. (Photo provided by the Maine Credit Union League) ... * WASHINGTON (9/22/09)--The Federal Reserve Board has said no to a request by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner for a public review of the Fed’s structure and governance (Bloomberg.com Sept. 21). Fed officials saw a threat to the central bank’s independence from such a review. Lawmakers also have requested reviews of the Fed’s structure after some said Fed Chair Ben Bernanke overstepped bounds when he bailed out American International Group Inc. and Bear Stearns. The Fed has said it is conducting reviews of its structure. Fed. Gov. Elizabeth Duke said she is working on an internal study of roles of each director on the boards at regional Fed banks ... * WASHINGTON (9/22/09)--Sheila Bair, Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) chair, said that the agency is considering some other options instead of charging banks another special assessment fee. Lawmakers had urged the agency not to charge more fees. Bair said the agency will release a proposal with ways that the Deposit Insurance Fund can be replenished (American Banker Sept. 21). Some of the options the agency is considering include issuing debt to the financial industry, requiring institutions to prepay next year’s assessment, or tapping into a line of credit at the Treasury Department. Many media outlets have reported that the Deposit Insurance Fund is nearly broke ... * WASHINGTON (9/22/09)--Federal Reserve Board discount window borrowing is on the decline, following improvements in financial conditions, the Fed said Friday (American Banker Sept. 21). During four weeks ended Aug. 26, lending was split 50-50 at the lending window. The top 10 borrowers took $130 billion and the 355 institutions that borrowed less took another $130. The central bank held $540 billion in collateral ...

This week in Congress Could reg reform picture become clearer

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WASHINGTON (9/22/09)--Some elements of the House plan for financial regulatory reform could become clearer following a series of House Financial Services hearings scheduled for this week. The House will reopen debate on Wednesday, with Credit Union National Association Chief Economist Bill Hampel testifying on the impact of regulatory reform on credit unions before the House Small Business Committee on Wednesday afternoon. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner will address Chairman Rep. Barney Frank's (D-Mass.) House Financial Services Committee earlier in the day, presenting his views on the Administration's proposals for financial regulatory reform. The Committee will also hear from Federal regulators during a separate hearing later that afternoon. Further House hearings on regulatory restructuring are expected during October. However, the Senate has not announced a schedule for discussion of regulatory reform proposals. One item that could be on the Senate agenda this week is overdraft protection, as Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) may introduce a bill that would require financial institutions to seek permission before they can enroll their accountholders in an overdraft protection program this week. A similar bill, introduced by Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), is in the House, and Barney Frank recently told The Washington Post that the new Consumer Financial Protection Agency, if approved, could itself create new overdraft rules.