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Maine interchange bill stalls in committee
PORTLAND, Maine. (5/9/11)--The Maine Legislature’s Insurance and Financial Services (IFS) Committee voted unanimously to “ought not to pass” on the state’s interchange bill on April 29, said the Maine Credit Union League. LD 1251--An Act To Prevent Credit Card Company Unfair Trade Practices--would have prohibited electronic payment systems from imposing certain restrictions on merchants relating to the acceptance of credit cards, charge cards, debit cards or other stored value cards as payment for goods and services (Weekly Update May 6). Since the bill was introduced, the league took an active role in opposing the legislation. The league coordinated a call to action by credit unions located within the districts of IFS committee members, stating opposition to the bill. Maine credit unions responded by sending 500 messages to the committee. The committee tabled a vote April 8 on the bill and directed interested parties to participate in a stakeholders’ group meeting (News Now April 18). The league and two credit union representatives participated in the stakeholders meeting, testified at another public hearing on the bill, and communicated directly with legislators on the negative impact the bill would have on Maine credit unions and their members. “We provided the committee with accurate information that was helpful in clearing up much of the misunderstanding about what this bill would really do,” said league President John Murphy. “That information and strategy proved important when the committee took its vote. We appreciate the involvement of our governmental affairs committee and credit unions on this bill.” The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) opposes a proposal in Congress capping interchange fees and has told federal lawmakers that such action would harm consumers by driving up costs of debit cards, limiting consumer options, and harming competition and technological innovation. Interchange fees allow business costs, including the risk of consumer nonpayment, to be shared by the payments participants, CUNA said.


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