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WASHINGTON-The Credit Union Regulatory Improvements Act is the first major piece of credit union legislation to go through Congress since the Credit Union Membership Access Act of 1998. Since that time, nearly one-third of the members of Congress are new, but there are certainly some who do not need an education on credit unions’ grassroots power. Four members of Congress in particular have risen up to improve the regulatory environment in which credit unions operate. With Congressman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) taking the lead, he along with fellow House Financial Services Committee Members Paul Kanjorski (D-Pa.), Steven LaTourette (R-Ohio), and Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) stepped forward at the end of 2003 to introduce CURIA. The bill, which they plan to reintroduce for this Congress, garnered 69 co-sponsors in the 108th Congress. Some of the key provisions of the bill include establishing a risk-based system of capital for credit unions, increasing the business lending cap to 20%, and changing the definition of a business loan to those over $100,000, up from the current $50,000. The legislation, as written last Congress, would also permit credit unions to lease unused office space in underserved areas, broaden investment opportunities, increase loan term limits, exclude loans to nonprofit religious organizations from the business lending cap, allow check cashing and wire transfers to nonmembers within the field of membership, ease voluntary merger requirements, provide greater autonomy in governance, and increase voting participation requirements for conversion to a mutual bank to 20% of the membership. The lawmakers have promised improvements to this year’s bill. -

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