WASHINGTON With some key members of Congress showing skepticism toward credit unions, the -Independent Bankers Association of America is planning to push for new curbs on the industry.
The community bankers' trade group is preparing a legislative package for next year that would impose taxes on credit union and bring them under the Community Reinvestment Act.
Though the IBAA ts sure 16 face a tough fight with the package, the group does have some grounds for thinking it can prevail.
"We recognize that it's going to be an uphill battle, that the credit union industry is a 900pound gorilla in this town," said Ron Ence, director of legislative affairs for the trade group. "But for the first time in many years' Congress is looking at the credit union industry. We felt it would be an opportunity to expand the field of inquiry."
He was referring to hearings held by Rep. Henry B. Gonzalez that focused on corporate credit unions and a hearing by Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy 2d that focused on extending CRA to credit unions.
Mr. Ence said the IBAA has several lawmakers in mind to introduce the legislation. but he declined to name them.
The overarching goal of the package will be to create a tougher level of regulation for larger credit unions, Mr. Ence said.
"There's a legitimate purpose for maintaining the traditional. mom-and-pop credit unions," he said. "We want to have two sets of rules, one for the small mom-andpop credit unions and another for the larger wanna-be-banks,"
Jeanne-Marie Murphy, a lobbyist for the Credit Union National Association, said the IBAA's move is doomed to failure. She noted that a similar legislative package in 1991 failed to garner a single congressional sponsor.
Pat Keefe, spokesman for the National Association of Federal Credit Unions, maintained that the proposal is a way to distract attention from the IBAA's failure to block the interstate banking law this year.
"They're going into a sensitive issue with community banks as a way of enticing them into staying in their organization in the face of interstate," he said.
The yet-to-be-completed legislation, titled "The Credit Union Reform and Regulatory Improvement Act of 1995," is more ambitious than the 1991 effort, Mr. Ence said.
The seven-point package would:
* Impose taxes on credit unions with more than $10 million of assets.
* Apply CRA to credit unions.
* Limit credit unions to one common bond.
* Toughen regulatory procedures for credit unions that want to expand.
* Subject credit unions to capital standards similar to banks.
* Expand the National Credit Union Administration board to five from three members.
* Extend all federal banking rules to credit unions.
The bill will be one of the IBAA's priorities in the 104th Congress, Mr. Ence said. "I think this is a terribly, terribly important issue for our members."