RICHMOND, Va. – Credit unions and other interested parties have until Jan. 9, 2004 to comment on a proposed regulation from the Virginia State Corporation Commission that would allow state-chartered credit unions to adopt underserved areas as part of their field-of-membership. Commissioner Joe Face said he crafted the proposed regulation in mid-November in response to requests he received from the Virginia Credit Union League on behalf of state-chartered credit unions. League President/CEO Rick Pillow said the league "views this proposal as an important parity issue and as an opportunity for our state-chartered credit unions to reach residents in underserved areas with financial services designed to empower them and their families. "It can't be anything but good for the state that credit unions want to go in and serve underserved communities and provide them with good quality financial services," he continued. That doesn't mean, he added, "that all state-chartered credit unions will want to expand their fields-of-membership to include these areas, but it's important that they have the option to do so if that's what they choose." Face said providing SCCUs this FOM expansion authority "could require legislative action, but it appears to be within the Commission's power to promulgate a regulation allowing it." Depending on the SCC's docket, the number of comments the agency receives and whether they support the proposed regulation as is or recommend "significant" changes, Face said the regulation could be adopted "as soon as the early part of 2004 or months from then." The SCC, said Face, will consider all the comments it receives – including any that are submitted by banks – and will hold a hearing on the matter if a request for a public hearing is requested. The SCC, he noted, could also decide on its own to hold a hearing, "but a hearing isn't mandatory," he said. "We're looking at a wide window," Face said, referring to the large number of unknowns in the situation. But Pillow, responding to the possibility that the regulation could be enacted in early 2004, said he hoped that was the case. -

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