Reflecting on my nine years on the NAFCU Board, this has beenone of the busiest congressional sessions in recent memory, withnew bills introduced almost daily that would significantly impactour industry. The various federal regulatory agencies have beenbusy, too.

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We are in a climate of pocketbook politics, with legislatorseager to alleviate the financial distress of constituents and withregulators feeling the heat as well. Unfortunately, this has notproduced a positive legislative or regulatory climate for creditunions.

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Watching from Baton Rouge, I have been impressed by NAFCUstaff's political acumen, protecting us from legislation that mighthave an adverse impact, while also ensuring that credit unioninterests and objectives are proactively advanced.

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Here are just a few legislative items NAFCU has been receivingattention in Congress:

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Credit card reform. The Credit Cardholders' Bill of Rights Act,H.R. 5244, introduced by Financial Institutions Subcommittee ChairCarolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), would bar practices such as universaldefault, double-cycle billing and unilateral changes in credit cardrates. It would also require at least 45 days' prior notice of anycard interest rate increases. Additionally, Senate BankingCommittee Chairman Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.) has introduced theCredit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure Act topromote additional reforms.

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Credit unions have a very good story to tell about credit cardsand have the interests of their members at heart. Bill Spearman,president and CEO of Mid-Hudson Valley Federal Credit Union,testified on our behalf in April before the House Small BusinessCommittee. He addressed small-business owners' need to accesscredit and their need to use credit cards to finance theirbusinesses.

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Interchange fees. The Credit Card Fair Fee Act of 2008, H.R.5546, introduced in the House by Judiciary Committee Chairman JohnConyers (D-Mich.) and in the Senate by Majority Whip Dick Durbin(D-Ill.), is a price-control bill that would establish athree-judge panel to determine “fair market prices” for interchangefees. NAFCU is vigorously opposing, as part of the ElectronicPayments Coalition.

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Capping fees would have a disproportionate effect on smallerinstitutions, reducing credit unions' already-narrow operatingmargins, forcing some institutions to stop their card programs orfueling consolidation. On May 15, John Blum, vice president ofoperations, Chartway Federal Credit Union, testified before theHouse Judiciary Committee, dispelling many of the misunderstandingspromulgated by the bill's proponents.

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Regulatory relief. The House recently passed a combined creditunion and banking bill, known as CUBTRRA (the Credit Union, Bankand Thrift Regulatory Relief Act). We view that as only a startingpoint in the Senate, where we will work to include risk-basedcapital and expanded member business lending authority.

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Our main regulatory relief bill remains CURIA, the Credit UnionRegulatory Improvements Act, introduced last year by Reps. PaulKanjorski (D-Pa.) and Ed Royce (R-Calif.). As of this writing, ithas garnered 150 sponsors, the most ever since it was firstintroduced six years ago.

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The banking industry vehemently opposes CURIA, though theproposed risk-based capital regime would parallel that of banks andthrifts. Given the current tightening of the credit markets andbanking industry pullbacks, now would be the perfect time forcredit unions to provide small businesses with the access tofinancing they need.

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NAFCU has opposed the data collection recommendations of theNCUA's Outreach Task Force. The availability of Home MortgageDisclosure Act and other data that clearly reflect that creditunions do a much better job of serving their members–regardless ofincome level–than the rest of the financial services industry, webelieve proves increased data collection is unwarranted.

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Additionally, NAFCU has steadfastly opposed disclosure ofexecutive compensation. Instead, NCUA should focus on regulatoryrelief based on proposed changes to CUSO and member businesslending rules.

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Ensuring that the Federal Reserve fully understands the impactof proposed changes to Regulations Z and DD, particularly withrespect to unfair and deceptive credit practices is hard work.

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The current economic turmoil, including ever-tighter margins anddisorder in the mortgage market, has required increased vigilanceon the part of credit unions Leadership in these and otherinstances serves to benefit and protect the entire credit unionsystem.

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This legislative and regulatory season is testing our mettle,though I am impressed at how well our members have fared.

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