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WASHINGTON — Though it may be difficult to recognize from previous forms, a pared-down Financial Services Regulatory Relief Act was signed into law this year, leaving credit unions to continue pursuing regulatory relief.

In a late night session that ran into the wee morning hours of Sept. 30, prior to adjourning for the campaign season, the Senate passed the final iteration of the bill by unanimous consent, which means there were no remaining objections; just days before the House passed the bill 417-0. Credit union specific provisions in the legislation included allowing low- and no-cost land leases on military installations; expanding the 12-year loan maturity limit to 15; permitting wire transfers and check cashing for anyone within the field of membership; and the so-called “FASB fix” from the original Senate bill, which will change the definition of net worth in the Federal Credit Union Act to avoid the unintended consequences of anticipated accounting rule changes. Another was added to clarify the Federal Trade Commission’s authority to begin oversight of private deposit insurance disclosures with states overseeing the availability of the insurers’ financials originally enacted in the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Improvement Act about a decade ago. Additionally, the law permits, but does not require, the Federal Reserve to begin paying interest on Reg D “sterile” reserves in 2012. Reg relief was signed into law by President George W. Bush Oct. 13. NCUA acted quickly to implement the new law at its Oct. 19 board meeting with an interim final rule permitting credit unions to offer wire transfers and check cashing to potential members. The House version of the bill included more than a dozen credit union specific provisions and was the product of six years worth of work. While the final version was not nearly as expansive, credit union lobbyists were heartened to see that credit unions received equal treatment with banks and thrifts concerning the general number of provisions and the substance.

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