Petitions Press Congress To Delay Durbin

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LAS VEGAS-Nevada Federal Credit Union CEO Brad Beal delivered more than 8,700 member signatures to the local office of Sen. Harry Reid urging a delay in implementation of the Durbin amendment to the Dodd-Frank Act.

Reid is the senate majority leader, which Beal said gives his credit union a "unique opportunity" to speak with a pivotal lawmaker.

"Interchange is a huge issue for all of us," said Beal, noting he did not expect to meet with Reid and instead met with a member of his staff, Robert Elliott.

Beal told Credit Union Journal Nevada Federal has been in regular contact with the senator's Washington office urging him to delay implementation of the interchange cap for two years to allow for further study.

The CU gathered the signatures in just four weeks because, Beal said, "our members know the burden will fall on them" if the Durbin amendment takes effect.

"There will be so much lost revenue if the interchange cap goes through. It will cost us $4 million in revenue, which, to oversimplify things, comes out to $50 per member per year. We are not going to do a blanket assessment of $50 per member, but we will be adjusting various fees for products and services."

Among the possible changes: Nevada Fed will have to take a "real hard look" at free checking, he said. The CU has already discontinued opening new free checking accounts, but it has a large number of members who are grandfathered in to free checking.

"That will undoubtedly change," he assessed.

"This is probably one of the biggest, most sweeping pieces of legislation ever," Beal declared. "The chairman of the Fed has expressed concerns with it, as has Barney Frank, whose name was on the original legislation. It will force lower-income folks out of mainstream financial services and back to payday lenders and check cashers."

The goal of the signature delivery was to implore Reid to, at a minimum, allow proposed legislation that would delay implementation of the Durbin amendment to come to the floor.

NAFCU, CUNA and the state leagues have been urging credit unions to activate their grassroots on interchange reform. The Ohio CU League, for example, recently sent a petition with nearly 30,000 signatures to Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH).

The petition is not the league's only effort. More than 7,000 e-mails, letters and phone calls have been logged, and a variety of legislative meetings have been held with lawmakers throughout the state.

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