CU Lobby Seeks New CURIA

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WASHINGTON - (05/13/05) -- Two major credit union allies onCapitol Hill introduced a new bill in Congress last week whichwould provide a variety of regulatory relief provisions, includingexpansion of business lending and membership authority and a newrisk-based capital system. The bill is similar to the oneintroduced on the last Congress and bears the same name--the CURegulatory Improvements Act--or CURIA, and would allow federalcredit unions converting to community charters to retain theirselect employee groups, would lift the current 12.25% (of assets)cap on member business loans, allow federal credit unions to offercheck cashing and wire transfers to non-members within their fieldsof membership, and would require that at least 20% of members voteon proposals to convert a credit union to a mutual savings bank. Itwould also implement a risk-based capital system for credit unions,and create a new definition of net worth for credit unions thatwill enable them to circumvent the pending Financial AccountingStandards Board rule prohibiting pooling, or combining, net capitalafter mergers. The chief sponsors are Democratic Rep. PaulKanjorski of Pennsylvania, one of the two sponsors of HR 1151, thelandmark CU Membership Access Act of 1998, and Republican Ed Royceof California, a long-time credit union champion and anotherco-sponsor of HR 1151.Another dozen lawmakers, evenly split betweenthe two parties, have also signed on as sponsors of the initialbill. "The goal from here," CUNA lobbyist Gary Kohn, told TheCredit Union Journal, "is to build co-sponsors, push for anotherhearing, and hope we can garner enough support." CUNA's aim is toget the 64 remaining members of Congress (of 69) who signed asco-sponsors to the last bill, and an ultimate goal of 100sponsors.

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