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WASHINGTON – NAFCU has made its regulatory relief wish list known, and it’s nothing like CUNA’s. In a letter to Acting NCUA Chairman Dennis Dollar, NAFCU President and CEO Fred Becker provided the regulator with a list of reforms the trade association would like to propose for a regulatory relief bill that is being considered by House Financial Services Chairman Mike Oxley (R-Ohio). The letter was also forwarded to NCUA Board Members Yolanda Wheat and Geoff Bacino and CUNA President and CEO Dan Mica. CUNA delivered its four recommendations to NCUA a few weeks ago. While Congress has passed three regulatory relief bills for banks in recent memory plus the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, credit unions have mostly been left in the 1930s dust. Finally, earlier this month, Oxley sent a letter to all the federal financial services regulators, including NCUA, asking for suggestions for a regulatory relief bill. While banks are not overly enthusiastic of the idea, credit union lobby groups are jumping at the chance to get their two cents in. “NAFCU greatly appreciates your firm commitment to regulatory relief, and we are confident that under your leadership NCUA will be able to provide a strong package on behalf of credit unions,” Becker wrote. Other than permitting voluntary mergers, NAFCU’s ideas for regulatory relief are very different from the ones CUNA suggested the previous week. Additional items on NAFCU’s `to do’ list include: * Allow federal credit unions converting to a community charter to continue to serve their previous (SEGs); * Eliminate `local’ from community; * Eliminate the preference imposed by H.R. 1151 for the formation of new credit unions over the addition of groups to an existing credit union; * Repeal the 12-year maturity limit on loans, except those otherwise designated in the FCU Act; and; * Relax the current commercial loan restrictions. NAFCU’s Becker commented that while credit unions are seeking regulatory relief, other groups, mainly the bankers, might see some issues as expanding authorities. “No matter what you do, some can be seen as enhancing powers,” he said, adding that NAFCU really tried to concentrate on items that would relieve regulatory burden on credit unions rather than enhancing powers. “Like many other things in political Washington.what is regulatory relief to one party may be expanded powers to another,” Bill Donovan, NAFCU senior vice president and general counsel, agreed. “While [creating a regulatory relief bill] is a significant event, it is one step in a process,” he emphasized. CUNA’s other reg relief items included eliminating the 1% maximum investment in CUSOs; permitting uninsured member shares; and updating investment authorities. According to Mica, CUNA had existing policy on these issues and the voluntary mergers, so they could move forward without waiting for board approval. CUNA Associate General Counsel Mary Dunn said that the four specified suggestions in its letter to NCUA are not the only ideas they have for regulatory relief. In addition to its four primary suggestions, CUNA’s letter also suggested that relief could be sought in commercial lending, the usury ceiling, the 12% maturity on loans, and prompt corrective action (PCA) changes, but CUNA was unsure whether these items “fit the rubric” of the reg relief bill. (CUNA refused to make its letter to NCUA available to Credit Union Times.) CUNA and NAFCU convened a meeting of the National Credit Union Legislative and Regulatory Coordinating Council meeting via teleconference on August 27. Many of CUNA’s and NAFCU’s top officials participated, including NAFCU Chairman Jim Mills, CEO of Three Rivers Federal Credit Union of Fort Wayne, Ind.; CUNA Chairman Dave Maus, CEO of Public Service Credit Union, Denver, Colo.; NAFCU Vice Chair Diane Furnas, CEO of Southwest Airlines Federal Credit Union, Dallas, Texas; CUNA Treasurer Juri Valdov, CEO of Northwest Federal Credit Union, Herndon, Va; NAFCU Legislative Chairman Mike Vadala, CEO of The Summit FCU, Rochester, N.Y.; NAFCU Director Brad Beal, CEO of Nevada FCU, Las Vegas, Nev.; NAFCU’s Becker; CUNA’s Mica; and senior staff from both organizations. The last time the Coordinating Council met was February 27, during CUNA’s Governmental Affairs Conference. “We look forward to providing Chairman Oxley with specific suggestions to make it easier for America’s credit unions to better serve their members,” said Mills. “[T]his is the first time in many years that an effort has been made to reach out to credit unions for suggestions on specific provisions that can be incorporated into the bill,” noted Maus. Chairman Oxley is expected to introduce a regulatory relief bill shortly after the August recess. According to lobbyists from both groups, the legislation will carry on into the next congressional session. NCUA will have the final word on what the credit union community ultimately proposes to be included in the legislation. Bankers’ groups have been reported to be less than enthusiastic about a regulatory relief bill, according to the American Banker. Some banks said they are afraid lawmakers may try to hang predatory lending and financial privacy legislation onto the bill. Additionally, bankers have received regulatory relief in other legislation over the past few years, including GLBA, which expanded bankers’ authorities, which may serve to dampen their enthusiasm. CUNA Senior Vice President of Governmental Affairs John McKechnie commented, “The banks may have shot themselves in the foot by taking that posture.” “We’re just looking at regulatory relief as regulatory relief right now,” CUNA Vice President and Senior Legislative Counsel Gary Kohn explained. “We don’t want to impugn their motives (McKechnie interjected, “I do.”),” Dunn said, “but I wouldn’t put it past them to try to nix this effort because [credit unions] might get some regulatory relief out of it.” Key government affairs staff for the American Bankers Association (ABA) were out on vacation and unavailable for comment. Becker made a point to add that bankers are not the only ones who have received regulatory relief lately. With the changing of the guards at NCUA, he stated, “We’re already getting regulatory relief and its name is Dennis Dollar and the NCUA Board.” [email protected]

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