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WASHINGTON-As Congress wraps up the business of the 108th Congress, the credit union trades are already gearing up for the fight for the Credit Union Regulatory Improvements Act (H.R. 3579) in the 109th Congress. At the start of the new session of Congress, the bill will have to start back at square one technically, but not really. The basic language is there, but it may get tweaked, NAFCU General Counsel Bill Donovan said. “Are there provisions not currently included in CURIA that should be included? Are there provisions in CURIA as it appears in the 108th Congress that should be modified? Should this be part of an omnibus reg relief bill or an independent freestanding bill? We’ll be looking at all of those options,” he explained, “and that’s why I say, when the Congress reconvenes in January, there’ll be a pretty clear plan of action that will be communicated to credit unions and credit union trade press. And the process of formulating that plan is underway.” Additionally, 66 of the 69 lawmakers who are publicly backing the bill will be returning to Congress next year. Of those lost, Congressmen Ken Lucas (D-Ky.) retired; Ciro Rodriguez (D-Texas) lost his primary; and Nick Lampson (D-Texas) lost his reelection bid. “We start over by working the 108th as we wrap up this Congress and make plans for the 109th Congress,” Donovan assured. “I think that you will find we are presently laying the groundwork for positive action on CURIA in the 109th Congress. There are a number of options that will be available and we’re exploring those options, discussing those options and expect that when Congress reconvenes in January, there’ll be a solid game plan outlined for action on those provisions in CURIA.” Some of the key provisions of H.R. 3579, as it stood at the close of the 108th Congress, would expand business lending by increasing the minimum loan amount for reporting as a business loan from $50,000 to $100,000, increase the cap on business loans from 12.25% to 20%, and excluding loans to nonprofit business organizations from the definition of business lending. It would also establish a risk-based capital system with a 2% `critically undercapitalized leverage ratio. The bill would also expand credit union investment authorities, increase loan maturities from 12% to 15%, permit check cashing and wire transfers to anyone within the field of membership, increase voting requirements for mutual savings bank conversions to 20% of the membership, and eliminate pre-merger notification requirements, among other things. [email protected]

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