Looking back on 2003, it is difficult to identify one event as the most significant for credit unions; rather, I would say there were a series of critical events that make 2003 not only a year to remember but one that was particularly productive for the credit union community. As the year began, Judge Frank Damrell signed off on an important agreement brokered by NAFCU, CUNA and other plaintiffs that extended the favorable ruling that had enjoined California from enforcing its credit card disclosure law against federal entities to state-chartered credit card issuers. Then, in late January, H.R. 1151 principal sponsors Reps. LaTourette (R-Ohio) and Kanjorski (D-Pa.) submitted a comment letter on the then-proposed NCUA FOM changes. Their letter clearly supported NCUA while also providing an important counterweight to the Treasury Department's less-favorable comment letter. The final rule, IRPS 03-01, was a considerable achievement for the credit union community and particularly gratifying for NAFCU given our dedication to enhancing the federal charter. An important follow-on to these FOM changes was NCUA's final MBL rule, spearheaded by Vice Chair Johnson and Board Member Matz. The SBA's decision in February to expand the 7(a) loan program to all credit unions was also a significant step forward. As a result, more credit unions now serve the business lending needs of their members. As Vice Chair Johnson has often reminded us, small businesses are the engine of our economy, and credit unions can play an important role in helping to finance small business entrepreneurship. Following the credit union industry's hard work on the regulatory relief bill, the introduction late in this Congress of a stand-alone credit union bill by Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.), sets the stage for 2004. The bill contains the bulk of the credit union provisions in the House regulatory relief bill, with an added provision on risk-based capital and another raising the MBL cap. The fact that NAFCU initiated discussions with Congress on a number of provisions in this legislation makes its introduction particularly satisfying. Of course, the bankers were at it again in 2003, harassing credit unions by filing a lawsuit against NCUA for its approval of Tooele FCU's community charter expansion. The actions taken by NCUA are clearly within the letter and spirit of the law, and we, along with CUNA and the Utah League, have been granted intervenor status in the case, which we are confident NCUA will win. In other legal wrangling, a federal district court dismissed the National Community Reinvestment Coalition's suit against NCUA for issuing an interim final rule to rescind its "community action plan" in December 2001. That was another case where NAFCU and CUNA joined together to seek "friend-of-the-court" standing. While the court did not grant us that privilege, the arguments we set forth in our brief ultimately prevailed to the benefit of credit unions. Most recently, President Bush signed the Fair and Accurate Transactions Act of 2003, containing NAFCU-backed preemptions to the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Keeping these preemptions intact was a top priority for NAFCU in 2003. NAFCU Vice Chair Mike Vadala testified before the House Financial Services Committee in June, voicing strong support for extending the preemptions. The law also contains key identity theft protections that will serve to benefit credit union members. In summary, it has taken a concerted effort by the credit union community in 2003 to bring about or shape a number of significant events in a positive direction. As a result, I firmly believe credit unions are well-positioned for continued prosperity in 2004 and beyond.

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