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ABA Drops Lawsuit On Underserved In Utah

WASHINGTON-The American Bankers Association last week agreed to end its two-year-old lawsuit over NCUA's underserved expansions.

The ABA suit originally challenged NCUA's approval of an underserved expansion for America First FCU, which the bankers said violated the Federal Credit Union Act, as America First FCU is a community charter. But after NCUA withdrew the approval for America First, the bankers no longer had a case.

Since then, NCUA has changed its rule to specifically bar community charters and single group credit unions from its underserved expansions program. About 200 underserved expansions previously approved for community chartered credit unions were allowed to stand. The ABA hasn't said if it will challenge any of those 200 underserved expansions.

"The losers in this issue are the people who live in low-income areas and will be deprived of credit union service," said CUNA CEO Dan Mica. "In their zeal to curtail credit unions, bankers have also shut the door to modest means people who are not receiving financial services, and the ability of credit unions to willingly serve them."

That is the accomplishment of this litigation brought by the bankers - to close a door. Clearly, that door must be opened again - maybe with a shove."

A Penny For Your Thoughts? Not Enough

WASHINGTON-Rep. Jim Kolbe wants to lighten your load. The Arizona Republican, who is retiring at year-end, pointed to statistics that show it costs the U.S. Mint 1.4 cents to produce a penny, and has introduced legislation that would eliminate all one-cent pieces, and require all cash transactions to be rounded either up or down to the nearest five cents. Non-cash transactions would not be affected.

"The penny has been a nuisance for years, but now that the cost of a penny exceeds its value, the landscape of the debate has completely changed," said Kolbe, who failed in a similar effort five years ago. Using pennies wastes $20 million a year, said the lawmaker, "so it's time for us to say that the penny stops here."

Kolbe's bill, the Currency Overhaul for an Industrious Nation (COIN) Act, would also fold the Bureau of Engraving and Printing and the U.S. Mint into the Federal Reserve, mandate a study on alternative coin compositions, and create a process to replace the dollar bill with a $1 coin.

Scholarship Being Offered Execs

MADISON, WIS.-The Credit Union Executives Society and WesCorp will offer two partial scholarships to attend the inaugural Executive Finance & Economics Institute. Offered through Duke Corporate Education and the London School of Economics and Political Science, the Institute examines how economies at all levels-global, national and regional-are interrelated, and how this affects credit unions. The curriculum was developed based on ideas generated by an advisory panel of credit union executives. For details: www.cues.org, select Executive Education; or call Lucy Roidt at 800.252.2664 or 608.271.2664, ext. 5327; or e-mail lucy cues.org. Applications are due by Aug. 15. Winners will be notified in September.

Community Rewards Card Offered

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.-New Mexico Educators FCU said it has launched a new "Community Rewards" card that allows members to help determine how the credit union distributes gift-giving, while also rewarding the member. Members will earn a one-quarter of 1% cash reward for their signature-based purchases and at the end of a year, the credit union will match their reward by a quarter of 1% to the community and charitable cause they chose when they enrolled. Members are able to choose a community and a charitable category where the credit union may contribute the funds. Credit union officials estimate they will raise as much as $500,000 during the first year.

US Mortgage Acquires Ratestar

PINE BROOK, N.J.-US Mortgage Corp., the parent of CU National Mortgage, said it has agreed to acquire Ratestar Inc., a Cincinnati-based Internet call center originating online mortgages. US Mortgage will use the Ratestar name in Ohio and other markets where the company is well known. Ratestar was owned by Homeowners Loan Corp., of Atlanta. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Son Of Iraq Vet Is Charged

BOWDOINHAM, MAINE-Three men were charged last week with an armed robbery at Bowdoinham FCU, including the son of a National Guard medic who was killed two months ago by a roadside bomb on Iraq. Christopher Kelley, 25, is the son of Dale Kelley, a Maine National Guardsman who was killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq in May. Police also arrested a 21-year-old from Bath, identified as Nolan Morton, and a 15-year-old who was arraigned in juvenile court. Before his arrest, Kelley sent his girlfriend to a local court, where she allegedly used some of the credit union loot to pay a fine for him, police said.

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