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WASHINGTON-CUNA President and CEO Dan Mica told Senator Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) in a Feb. 8 letter on his updated regulatory relief matrix that his organization would still like to see a few more relief measures in Crapo’s long-awaited legislation. A risk-based capital system and expanded business lending powers were the top two credit union-specific changes Mica requested. “Credit unions continue to remain the most highly regulated and restricted of all insured financial institutions, particularly after the passage of the Credit Union Membership Access Act (CUMAA) in 1998. Severe restrictions have been unintentionally imposed on credit unions in several areas, especially small business lending and capital standards,” Mica wrote. He asked that provisions from the Credit Union Regulatory Improvements Act (H.R. 2317) to increase the member business lending cap from 12.25% to 20% and update the threshold of what qualifies as a business loan from $50,000 to $100,000 be included in any legislation introduced in the Senate. A risk-based capital system, Mica said, would ensure that the standards allow the NCUA to supervise a modern risk-based capital system for credit unions. CUNA supports amendments to create similar standards for credit unions that are applicable to FDIC-insured institutions. Enacting the NCUA capital reform proposal would ultimately result in capital and net worth requirements that more precisely reflect a credit union’s actual risk profile, while providing appropriate safeguards for the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund, the American taxpayer, and the overall credit union system.” Additionally, he suggested that two other items be added to the general provisions of a regulatory relief package: eliminating annual privacy notices for financial institutions that do not share personal information or have not changed their policy, and increasing or eliminating the cap on permissible monthly transfers from savings accounts. On the latter, Mica explained, “It is impossible to logically explain the “Regulation D” restrictions to consumers in this electronic age. Perhaps the committee should inquire of the Federal Reserve Board if the distinction between savings and transaction accounts is even needed in 2006 for carrying out monetary policy.”

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