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WASHINGTON-After passing out of the House Financial Services and Judiciary Committees, the Financial Services Regulatory Relief Act (H.R. 3951) lost momentum and died at the conclusion of the congressional session. However, lobbyists view next year as more promising. Several provisions in the bill were favorable to credit unions, which caused the American Bankers Association to turn its back on the entire package that included many more sections favorable to banks and thrifts than to credit unions. Congressman Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.) and others admonished the banker groups during committee hearings to support provisions meant for them, rather than attack the credit union provisions. Title III of the bill would: *permit privately insured credit unions to become members of the Federal Home Loan Bank system; *allow minimal lease charges for credit unions operating on government property; *provide NCUA authority to allow credit unions to purchase and hold investment grade securities for their own investment; *increase the 12-year maturity limitation on federal credit union loans to 15 years and grant NCUA greater authority in the area; *raise the 1% investment limit in credit union service organizations to 3%; *exclude from the member business lending cap loans made to nonprofit, religious organizations; *permit credit unions to perform check cashing and money wire services to potential members within their field of membership; *allow for voluntary mergers of healthy multiple common bond credit unions; *permit common bond credit unions to keep their previous select employee groups after converting to a community charter; *expand credit union controlled governance to include expulsion of members for just cause, establishing term limits, and allowing reimbursement for lost wages due to credit union service; *give NCUA more discretion over the usury ceiling; and *exempt credit unions from premerger notification requirements. Congressman Gary Ackerman (D-N.Y.) inserted an additional amendment that would require financial service providers to notify a customer or member prior to a negative report to a credit bureau. Financial institution trade groups have opposed this provision. The Senate did not pick up on the bill in 2002, but Senate Banking Committee Chair-apparent Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) had reportedly been looking to introduce a sister bill, which may bolster efforts for regulatory relief for the 108th Congress. [email protected]

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