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WASHINGTON-While America’s Community Bankers still consider “the credit union issue” an important problem, it did not rank very high on the group’s list of top priorities for 2003. Included on the list of ACB’s 2003 Action Priorities was protecting consumer financial information. The banking trade group is seeking stiffer criminal penalties for identity thieves, enhanced information sharing in order to monitor identity theft, increasing consumer access to credit reports-preferably free of charge – privacy disclosure simplification, and developing laws and regulation that do not discriminate against financial institutions based on size. For example, smaller institutions typically farm out certain tasks, like check printing, to a third party unlike larger banks, and therefore have to disclose this third-party information sharing arrangement to customers. ACB also advocated for tax incentives for savings and investment, such as not taxing the first $2,000 in interest income for taxpayers, to be included in the president’s tax package. However, when asked about the idea during ACB’s Government Affairs Conference last week, Treasury Secretary John Snow was not supportive of the idea. In addition, ACB voiced support for the multi-district membership issue in the Federal Home Loan Bank System; deposit insurance reform including the coverage increase; regulation of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae; and strengthening financial literacy and curbing predatory lending. In ACB’s 90-page 2003 Policy Positions booklet, credit union taxation, compliance with Community Reinvestment Act requirements, and field of membership expansion appeared back on pages 23 and 24 under the subheading Fundamental Policy Principles. The usual arguments of “bank-like credit unions” and expansive FOM regulation were presented in the trade association’s policy positions. Other key issues that ACB is involved in included bankruptcy abuse reform, business checking, and Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act-Truth in Lending Act reform.

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