WASHINGTON-In its recent letter to NCUA Chairman Dennis Dollar commending his speech at NAFCU's Annual Conference regarding field of membership updates, CUNA also requested the regulator's help pushing the issue on the Hill (CUTimes, July 31, 2002). Dollar, while willing to offer up the agency as a resource for the trade groups and lawmakers, has said that the role of the regulator is not to initiate activity on Capitol Hill. In the letter CUNA President and CEO Dan Mica, a former Democratic congressman from Florida, wrote, "While the future of regulatory relief is uncertain this year, NCUA's support has been very important and we want to coordinate with the agency as we move forward in advocating key legislative changes on Capitol Hill." Dollar told Credit Union Times, "There are certainly some statutory changes which would be beneficial for the viability of changes in the federal charter. However, that is a decision for Congress to make." He pointed out that his recent speech discussed working within the parameters of the Credit Union Membership Access Act. He also noted that it is not the agency's job to lobby Congress. Dollar did state that the agency would "work with them on any legislative initiatives that we feel would be beneficial to long-term safety and soundness." CUNA Associate General Counsel Mary Dunn said that the letter demonstrates the organization's two-part effort to bolster field of membership advances. On one hand is the NCUA's review of the field of membership regulations mentioned in the chairman's speech, Dunn indicated, while on the other hand is the legislative side, much of which is included in the regulatory relief legislation (H.R. 3951) currently stalled in the House. "Everyone agrees those are changes that would be better if we have," she said, referring to the list of items in CUNA's letter, including allowing credit unions to mix community, occupation and association groups and eliminate the presumption that groups over 3,000 should form a new credit union. However, Dunn said, the agency could also look at updating its low-income designation definition to allow more credit unions to take on more members. "CUNA cares tremendously about strengthening the federal charter," Dunn explained, and pointed to the NCUA chairman's political power to help credit union issues along. Dollar admitted it is not always easy deciding what is important for the agency to push legislatively and when to let the trade groups go it alone. "It's a fine line to walk as an independent regulator when dealing with legislative issues. I think we walk it much more as a resource." Neither Dollar nor CUNA is concerned about the appearance of being to close to the other. "It's important to know the day-to-day issues that those you regulate face in the marketplace," Dollar commented. [email protected]

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