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Treasury Endorses More Oversight For Two GSEs

WASHINGTON-Treasury Secretary John Snow told Congress last week the Bush administration endorses a proposal to move the regulator over secondary mortgage giants Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae from the Department of Housing and Urban Development to Treasury. Testifying before the House Financial Services Committee, Snow and HUD Secretary Mel Martinez called on Congress to strengthen federal oversight over the two housing giants.

"There is a general recognition that the supervisory system for housing-related, sponsored enterprises neither has the tools, nor the stature, to deal effectively with the current size, complexity and importance of these enterprises," said Snow.

North, South Dakota Leagues Explore Merger

BISMARCK, N.D. and SIOUX FALLS, S.D.-The South Dakota and North Dakota CU Leagues announced they intend to merge, pending further negotiations and ratification by their member credit unions.

The boards of the two leagues have signed a letter of intent to consolidate, and they hope to have the details ironed out in time for a Nov. 21 meeting for a final vote by the two boards, according to South Dakota CU League CEO Don Couch.

"Then we'll go out to our member credit unions and hear what they have to say about this and have a series of ratification meetings," he told The Credit Union Journal. "We've been talking and meeting and sharing services for five years now, so this is not all that new to our credit unions."

Mo. Supreme Court Hears Case

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo.-Credit union supporters lined the courtroom at the state's Supreme Court Wednesday as seven judges heard arguments on whether banks have standing to challenge a field of membership ruling issued by the state regulator. Other than the two lawyers representing the banks, there were no bank supporters in attendance.

Attorneys for the banks argued that banks, as competitors of credit unions, should be interpreted as "aggrieved parties" and therefore have standing to challenge the state CU Division's decision to grant Telecom CU the right to serve the more than 800,000 residents living within the state's 417 area code.

But the state's Attorney General's office holds that the state legislature has said it will not protect competitors from other competitors, therefore banks could not be considered "aggrieved parties" and cannot bring suit. At the earliest, the court will hand down its decision in the next two to three months. The case could have significant ramifications as at least a half-dozen other FOM challenges brought by the bankers are still pending.

CUs Lobby HUD On Respa

WASHINGTON-Representatives of CUNA Mutual Mortgage and several credit unions met here with officials from the Department of Housing and Urban Development to lobby against several changes proposed for the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA).

CMG's Chief Operating Officer Dan Rotert said the proposal, which would allow lenders to roll mortgage and settlement services into one package and offer a guaranteed price at a guaranteed interest rate, looks good on the surface.

The potential problem, he and others told HUD, is that its net effect will be to tilt the playing field toward the mega-lenders, reducing competition.

Canadian CUs Have A Beef

WINNIPEG, Manitoba-The 175 credit union branches in this province have raised monety to help cattle producers lobby to lift the American embargo on Canadian beef.

Over the past month the credit union branches have used barbecues and other events to raise (C) $40,000 for the Manitoba Cattle Producers Association. Another (C) $18,000 was donated by members. MCPA president Betty Green says the association will meet with the credit unions to discuss where the money will go and how it will be used.

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