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WASHINGTON-In a targeted attack on the Credit Union Regulatory Improvements Act (H.R. 2317), American Bankers Association Chairman Harris Simmons urged banks to write in opposition of the credit union bill. Simmons, CEO of Zions Bank in Utah, wrote in an Oct. 12 letter to ABA member banks that he sees “interesting and positive developments” in the organization’s credit union strategy. His suggestion is that bank-like credit unions should be forced to convert to mutual savings banks. “ABA’s long-term plan for leveling the playing field between banks and credit unions is simple.As you know,” he wrote, “there is a point at which a credit union-through growth, diversified offerings and/or reach – looks and functions more like a bank than like a traditional credit union. When a CU reaches that point, its rules and regulation should change. ABA believes that triggering conversion to a mutual savings bank charter when a credit union meets certain defining criteria is the most efficient and effective route for bringing about equal treatment. “Once converted, the credit union can grow, diversify and raise more capital. But its regulation becomes equal to that of banks, it has a bank regulator and it is taxed. Although over two dozen credit unions have successfully converted, it’s not yet mandatory for these non-traditional CUs. We believe it should be.” Simmons pointed to ABA’s backing of the two recently converted Texas credit unions, which he said has given their cause “a boost.” He continued on to warn, “But if CURIA is enacted as part of the reg relief bill, credit unions will have no need to convert and their growth will be virtually unrestrained.” “Here’s the bottom line: The credit unions are working to attach the provisions of their bill, the Credit Union Regulatory Improvements Act (CURIA), to the pending regulatory relief bill in the House Financial Services Committee,” Simmons stated. “If they are successful, the banking industry will be in the unpleasant position of either opposing reg relief or supporting expanded commercial lending authority and lower minimum capital standards for credit unions. “So far, bankers have not written to their Representatives in sufficient numbers to ensure that this will not happen. You can help change that.” He pointed the bankers to ABA’s sample letter available at www.aba.com. Simmons initiated the letter writing campaign as a precursor to ABA and the state associations bringing bankers to Washington for face time with members of the House Financial Services Committee. [email protected]

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