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CommitteeWASHINGTON-Two bills that credit unions have been monitoring closely passed out of the House Financial Services Committee last week. The Expanded Access to Financial Services Act of 2005 (H.R. 749), introduced by Congressmen Jim Gerlach (R-Pa.) and Brad Sherman (D-Calif.), would amend the Federal Credit Union Act to permit federal credit unions to offer check cashing and money transfer services to nonmembers within their fields of membership. The bill is aimed at steering unbanked Americans, including a vast number of recent immigrants, away from high cost check cashing and payday lending service providers. The Financial Services Regulatory Relief Act included this bill among its provisions and overwhelmingly passed the House last Congress. On March 15, the day before the markup, NAFCU sent a letter to the committee leadership stating, “NAFCU fully supports the merits of this bill since abuses are rampant in communities where immigrants rely on money transfer companies to send remittances to family members and others in their country of origin. Unfortunately, money transfer companies oftentimes charge exorbitant fees on those sending remittances, while imposing poor exchange rates.” The committee also announced that it cleared the Military Personnel Financial Services Protection Act (H.R. 458) onto the full House for consideration. The legislation would ban the sale of contractual mutual funds, an obscure product no longer offered in the civilian market and require that military personnel be informed of liver insurance available through the federal government prior to the sale of any private insurance. The bill also clarifies that state insurance commissioners have jurisdiction over military installations within their borders. Congressman Geoff Davis (R-Ky.), who introduced the bill, admitted that as a young serviceman, he and his wife last about half their life savings from a similar scheme. Similar legislation passed the House by a vote of 396-2 in the 108th Congress.

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