Legislation to ease membership requirements for federal credit unions was introduced in the House Thursday.

The bill, sponsored by Reps. Steven LaTourette, R-Ohio, and Paul Kanjorski, D-Pa., would nullify a federal appeals court decision barring occupation-based credit unions from serving employees at unrelated companies. The Supreme Court plans to hear the case this year.

Credit union trade groups have been searching for sponsors since the appeals court decision in October. Rep. LaTourette, a Banking Committee member, said, "All this legislation does is give consumers a choice about where they conduct their financial dealings."

The bill would amend the Federal Credit Union Act to allow credit union membership to "one or more groups, each of which have a common bond."

"What is being positioned as a small change," American Bankers Association executive vice president Donald G. Ogilvie said, "would in fact open the floodgates to credit union membership for anyone, anywhere, anytime."

The bill's 17 co-sponsors include House Rules Committee Chairman Gerald Solomon; Indiana Republican Dan Burton; and Reps. Lucille Roybal-Allard, D- N.Y., Maurice Hinchey, D-N.Y., and Bernard Sanders, a Vermont Independent, all Banking Committee members.

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