Reg Relief Bill Favored By CUs Expected To Move

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The House is expected to vote a broad-based regulatory relief package, which includes more than a dozen credit union provisions, sometime in the next few weeks, and could begin deliberations on a broader credit union bill soon after, key lawmakers said last week.

"We're going to try to move the bill within a month," Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-AL), chairman of the House Financial Services Financial Institutions Subcommittee, told CUNA's GAC last week regarding the regulatory relief package that has been stalled in the House.

But later, Rep. Michael Oxley, chairman of the full Financial Services Committee, told The Credit Union Journal there appears to be agreement on several sticking points, including provisions related to Industrial Loan Companies, clearing the way for a vote on the overall package. Oxley said he expects a vote-and passage-of the regulatory relief bill by the full House later this month.

The bill includes provisions that would allow federal credit unions converting to community charters to retain their select groups; ease the way to voluntary mergers; let privately insured credit unions join the Federal Home Loan Banks; shift rulemaking authority setting limits on investments in CUSOs, loan maturities, and permissible investments for credit unions from Congress to NCUA; and amend corporate governance rules for federally chartered credit unions.

The regulatory relief bill, however, has not yet been drafted in the Senate, where leaders have indicated their intentions to write their own package incorporating some of what the House has done. Representatives for Senate Banking Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-AL) said they expect to hold a public drafting session, or mark-up, on a reg relief bill later this month.

Bachus said his subcommittee will hold hearings on the broader credit union package, known as the CU Regulatory Improvement Act, or CURIA, which will include several provisions not in the regulatory relief bill. Those include increasing the cap on member business loans from the current 12.25%, and allowing credit unions to offer limited services to non-members, like check cashing and wire transfers.

The bill also includes a provision that would make it harder for federally insured credit unions to convert to mutual savings banks by requiring that at least 20% of all of a credit union's members vote on a conversion. Current law, enacted as part of HR 1151, the CU Membership Access Act, requires a bare majority of voting members to approve a conversion to MSB.

Those deliberations will probably include provisions that would provide regulatory relief for community banks, as well, Bachus said. "They face some of the same problems you do," Bachus told the GAC attendees. "So we're going to hold a hearing on how to better serve your communities."

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