5 Credit Union Bills Ignored by the Senate
The House of Representatives passed five key pieces of legislation supported by credit union trade groups in 2014, but they did not make it out of the Senate before the end of session. Find out which bills credit unions will continue to advocate for during visits with elected officials in 2015.
The Republican-controlled House approved the Regulation D Study Act unanimously by a 422 to 0 vote on Dec. 2. The bill would require the Government Accountability Office to make recommendations to Congress on how to update the law, which limits the number of monthly electronic withdrawals from a savings account to six, to better reflect modern technology and account usage. However, the Democratic-led Senate did not bring the bill to a vote before Senators left Washington for the year.
Ryan Donovan, CUNA’s SVP of legislative affairs, said he is confident the GAO will conduct a Regulation D study without passage of the legislation.
“We’ll be working with the sponsors to get the GAO to agree to do the report,” he said.
The Senate also did not pass the Privacy Notification Modernization Act, which would change the current law that requires an annual privacy notification be sent to members. If the bill had become law, a credit union would only need to send a privacy notice to members if there has been a change in language from the previous year. CUNA and NAFCU supported the bill, saying it would reduce expenses for credit unions.
“The Senate privacy notice bill (S. 635) has over 70 cosponsors, which speaks for itself and should be a good candidate to move next Congress,” Jillian Pevo, NAFCU director of legislative affairs, said.
The Capital Access for Small Community Financial Institutions Act of 2014 as another piece of legislation supported by NAFCU and CUNA that did not become law.
CUNA previously told CU Times the legislation would fix a drafting error from a 1989 bill that opened the Federal Home Loan Bank system to commercial banks and federally chartered credit unions. The bill would have allowed 130 privately insured credit unions to apply for membership in the Federal Home Loan Bank system.
Donovan said the bill would strengthen privately insured credit unions by offering additional liquidity and enabling them to make more home mortgage loans.
“I anticipate we will try to reintroduce the bill that would make privately insured credit unions eligible to join the federal home bank system. There was strong support for that bill in the House. The reasons the Senate was unable to act on this didn't have to do with the substance of the bill,” Donovan said.
4. Qualified Mortgage Calculation and 5. Rural Designation Process
According to Pevo, NAFCU was advocating for the Senate to act on the Mortgage Choice Act of 2013, which would adjust the calculation of points and fees under the CFPB's Qualified Mortgage rule.
NAFCU also supported the CFPB Rural Designation Petition and Correction Act, which would require the CFPB to set up an application process for a county to request designation as a rural area.
“The Senate version of the CFPB Rural Designation Petition and Correction Act is sponsored by Leader McConnell, who will have significant impact on the Senate floor schedule given Republicans will be in the majority,” Pevo said.
Even though the bills didn't pass the Senate, Donovan said much progress was made on each of them, despite a historically challenging environment.
“We're looking forward to getting back to work on these and other measures to remove barriers for credit unions when the new Congress convenes in a few weeks,” he said.
Donovan told CU Times the incoming Republican majority in Congress could help relieve some of the regulatory burden on credit unions.
“When you look at the differences between this year and next year, the major change is control of the Senate. There is a Republican majority coming into control that could be reasonably expected to entertain legislation that removes barriers so that credit unions and other lenders can keep serving borrowers,” he said.
“While the change in control isn't a panacea, it might open the door wider for these types of measures to move.”